U.S. media mogul Redstone’s ex-girlfriend loses motion in mental competence suit

92-year-old controls 80 per cent of Viacom, CBS' voting shares
By Lisa Richwine
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/30/2015

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — A California court on Monday rejected a request from the former girlfriend of Sumner Redstone for the 92-year-old chairman of Viacom to undergo an immediate medical evaluation.

Former girlfriend Manuela Herzer filed a lawsuit last week seeking to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent and petitioned to have him examined to determine if he can still make decisions for himself. Her lawsuit came after she was kicked out of Redstone's Los Angeles area home by a Redstone lawyer.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein ruled there was no need for an immediate evaluation of Redstone but allowed the case to proceed.

"I do not find any urgency," Klein said at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The case raised new questions about Redstone's ability to run Viacom and CBS. He controls 80 per cent of both companies' voting shares and serves as executive chairman of both.

Redstone's physical and mental health have been the subject of intense speculation, in part because he has been largely absent from his companies' recent earnings calls.

Herzer had been chosen by Redstone to make health-care decisions for him in case he was not able to, her lawsuit said, until Redstone executed a new agreement in October to remove her as his health-care agent in favour of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

Herzer claims Redstone was mentally incompetent when he made that move and asked to be reinstated as the person in charge of his medical decisions if he becomes incapacitated.

Lawyers for Redstone say the executive is competent and that Herzer is pursuing a "personal financial agenda."

A hearing will be held in January on a motion from Redstone's attorneys to dismiss the case.

Klein put a hold on discovery in the case, saying the request from Herzer's attorneys was too broad.

Herzer's lawyers have asked for a videotaped deposition of Redstone. At the hearing, Gabrielle Vidal, an attorney for Redstone, said that request was premature given the court has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss the case.

Pierce O'Donnell, a lawyer for Herzer, said after the hearing that he expected to ultimately win the right for the videotaped deposition.

"The good news is the case will go forward," he told reporters outside the courthouse.

Vidal said she was pleased with the court's decision.

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