Giving new meaning to the concept of trick-or-treat, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Andre Bouchard today set aside the week of October 31 for a trial to decide whether Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements (NAI) can replace five Viacom directors — including CEO Philippe Dauman.
The theater chain owns 80% of Viacom’s voting stock, giving it the right to pick directors.
But Viacom’s Lead Independent Director Frederic Salerno contends that Redstone is not competent to manage his affairs and is being manipulated by his daughter, Shari, who’s Viacom’s Vice Chair.
The Redstones reject the charges, saying that Sumner is still capable of running his media empire.
Today’s order does not resolve a key question: whether an independent doctor will examine Redstone to determine his competence.
Viacom has until tomorrow to renew its motion for the court to order one. The Redstones would have until August 19 to respond, with a reply brief due August 23.
Meanwhile, Redstone has until tomorrow to provide Viacom with a list of the medical professionals he has consulted since the beginning of 2014. By Monday he must ask those doctors to produce records on their examinations and turn them over “promptly upon receipt.”
Bouchard says the 2014 date is “reasonable” since Salerno says “that there is reason to believe Mr. Redstone may have been hospitalized or undergone brain scans in 2014.”
Most of the documents must be delivered by September 2. Depositions must wrap up by October 5.
The lawyers must “make a good faith effort to coordinate discovery efforts” with a separate case in Massachusetts where Dauman is seeking to keep his positions on Redstone’s family trust and the NAI board.
And if there’s a medical exam, then it “shall be coordinated” with the Massachusetts case and possibly one in California where a judge has been asked to validate Redstone’s ability to run his affairs.
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court plans to hear Dauman’s case against Redstone beginning October 3. The parties plan to meet tomorrow to discuss scheduling, discovery and whether they need any hearings before the trial begins.