Sumner Redstone Health Care Lawsuit: No Deposition, But He Must Sit For Examination

Despite the ongoing legal efforts of his former companion, Viacom founder Sumner Redstone will not be deposed in the health care lawsuit brought by his former companion Manuela Herzer. However, to further the investigation of Redstone’s mental and medical status, the 92-year-old will have to face a one-hour examination from a doctor preferred by Herzer, L.A. Superior Court Judge David Cowan ruled today.

“A short examination by Dr. Read, as circumscribed below, is an alternative, less intrusive means for assessing the quasi-medical issue of capacity than taking Redstone’s deposition,” wrote Judge David Cowan in a tentative ruling Friday (read it here). “The Court is confident that a more informal conversation between a doctor and patient, with an experienced and well respected physician such as Dr. Read, will be far more productive than an adversarial deposition with attorneys and a court reporter and ultimately provide more useful testimony relevant to the issues the Court has to decide. A short examination, as outlined below, would not be the type of exhaustive examination that was initially proposed and which the Court had found would be overly intrusive.”

“We are gratified that the Court continues to reject Ms. Herzer’s increasingly desperate and disingenuous attempts to depose Mr. Redstone,” said the mogul’s lawyer Gabrielle Vidal of Loeb & Loeb after the hearing.

Today’s ruling is the latest in the lawsuit by Herzer, who was replaced as Redstone’s health care agent in October. She claims that Redstone is a “living ghost” who was not competent to make the decision to turn the affairs over to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

The Viacom chief has said that Redstone is still as “engaged, attentive and opinionated as ever.” But he has not participated in CBS or Viacom quarterly earnings calls since November 2014 and did not attend either of their annual meetings last year.

A shareholder in Viacom and CBS — both 80% controlled by Redstone —sued the companies’ boards Tuesday for paying Redstone even though he’s said to be “physically and mentally incapacitated.” Viacom said the suit was “without merit.”

The next day, Viacom said Redstone’s compensation package for fiscal year 2015 was slashed by 85% to $2 million, from $13.2 million, later described as “in light of Mr. Redstone’s reduced responsibilities for the year.” Although his salary was unchanged, the company said he “became ineligible to receive a bonus beginning in fiscal 2015 and has not been eligible to receive an annual equity award since fiscal 2012.”

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