The law of averages said it had to happened one day amidst all the lawsuits, counter-claims and machinations of corporate control that have swirled around Sumner Redstone the past few years – the lawyers all agree on something.
Calling it “truly a miracle in this case,” Ronald Richards, the attorney for the 95-year old media mogul’s former companion says now that “Redstone’s counsel has agreed to testify at the evidentiary and Redstone has agreed to have an evidentiary hearing” the court should grant its motion and get this part of the party started.
With Redstone’s main attorney and CBS board member Robert Klieger signing off earlier this week on the probe, everyone is basically singing from the same choir book now on looking into Sumner’s mental capacity – though with very different endgames. Regardless, the hearing in this latest incarnation of Manuela Herzer’s three-year, multi-suit quest to be reinserted into the nonagenarian’s good graces, life and trust is set for August 30 in state court in downtown L.A.
“The law requires an evidentiary hearing as Redstone’s current capacity to maintain his agency is at issue in this case,” declared Richards in a reply (read it here) to the Hueston Hennigan LLP signed opposition of sorts to the Herzer’s motion of earlier this month to authorize discovery regarding capacity.
“Despite the fact that Redstone’s counsel has incorrectly concluded that Herzer lacks entitlement to question Redstone’s capacity, Herzer does agree that Redstone’s privacy rights must be protected during this process,” says today’s filing in L.A Superior Court. “Further, Herzer has not moved to compel Redstone’s deposition in this Petition because this Court has already concluded that a deposition would be detrimental to his health and issued a protective order. If after reviewing the medical records and nurse’s logs, a medical exam is necessary, Herzer will explore that issue as an alternative to a deposition.”
Of course, even as both sides agree that there is nothing to be gained from a direct deposition of the long ailing Viacom overlord, all is not entirely kosher between the Team Redstone and Team Herzer. For one, there are allegations from Herzer’s attorney of the long long legal “record being distorted further” by Redstone’s lawyers in their paperwork.
In fact, any equanimity in this matter clearly has a sell-by date.
“Once Redstone’s capacity to participate in these proceedings is determined, then the question of whether the petition to confirm Redstone’s Trust should be dismissed comes into play,” Richards says, in a move that could have big implications for the Delaware based battle between CBS and the Redstone dominated National Amusement holding company. The parties are locked in a near death match for corporate control of the still Les Moonves run company and any potential re-merger with Viacom, which is what Shari Redstone desires.
And, with a supposedly deeply unflattering and hidden from the public iPhone filmed video of Sumner by CBS board member Arnold Kopelson from earlier this year floating about both lawsuits, it is the younger Redstone who the spotlight is inevitably veering towards. With a seemingly particular hate-on for Herzer even before the companion was tossed out of Sumner’s life in 2015, the NAI president and CBS and Viacom vice-chairwomen is widely assumed to be calling the shots in both her and her father’s names to her own ends.
“Based on the information recently revealed by Mr. Kopelson as discussed in the Motion, which is the first recent evidence that has come to light from a disinterested source, Herzer believes that a thorough and robust inquiry into Redstone’s current capacity through the discovery act, and a finding by the Court after a contested evidentiary hearing with live witnesses, is needed to determine whether Redstone is truly able to participate in these proceedings,” proclaims Richards for his client.
Mention almost as an aside in a previous legal filing, there’s a so-called Plan B for the Redstone offspring to take over in more than name as the designated agent in this case and potentially other circumstances if Sumner is determined “to be legally incapacitated.”
“Because Herzer has been prohibited from any interaction with Redstone, and because this Court granted a protective order earlier this year prohibiting Redstone’s deposition, Herzer has no information on Redstone’s current condition,” Tuesday’s nine-page paperwork asserts. “In light of the acrimony expressed towards her by Redstone’s counsel in these and other proceedings, Herzer refused accept the self-serving statements of Redstone’s counsel that he was fully capable of participating in this action as true.”
“Herzer does not agree that if it is determined that Redstone is incompetent that Shari’s authority will become effective for the reasons stated,” the filing additionally says, in what may be the meat of meals to come. “As Herzer has pointed out, if it is determined that Redstone is incompetent and that the incompetence existed as of the date the Redstone Petition was filed, then Herzer has the right to file a motion to dismiss the Redstone Petition and again, this Motion is simply for the area of Redstone’s current capacity on August 30, 2018, to be a proper topic for discovery in this case.”
All of which means they will be waiting with bated breath at NYC’s Black Rock and Thursday should be fun for followers of the Redstone saga, if nothing else.