A former companion of CBS billionaireSumner Redstone filed court papers seeking dismissal of the 95-year-old former media mogul’s elder abuse suit against her, alleging he lacks the capacity to control the litigation and give guidance to his attorneys.
“We are going for the knockout punch,” said Manuela Herzer attorney Ronald Richards, who previously said Redstone’s law firm of Hueston, Hennigan LLP is essentially a group of “lawyers without a client.”
Herzer has an ongoing suit against Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone. Meanwhile, Redstone has sued Herzer for elder abuse. He seeks to recover assets he alleges Herzer wrongfully extracted from him. The case is set for trial in February 2020.
Herzer’s dismissal motion, filed Wednesday, relies in part on the conclusions of geriatrician Dr. David W. Trader, who stated in a sworn declaration that on Sept. 6, he watched footage that Redstone friend Arnold Kopelson shot of the former businessman with an iPhone at Redstone’s Beverly Park mansion on Jan. 28.
Trader said his background conducting clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease makes him “well-versed” in state laws regarding legal mental capacity.
“Based on the video received, Trader says, “it is extremely unlikely Mr. Redstone has sufficient cognitive capacity presently to hire, direct and maintain legal counsel” or to make decisions regarding the ongoing litigation.
A large portion of Trader’s declaration is blacked out in Herzer’s court papers.
In addition to Trader’s opinions, psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Read concluded after examining Redstone in January 2016 that the billionaire likely suffered from “moderate to severe dementia,” according to Herzer’s court papers.
Herzer’s court papers also make note of a case more than a century old that states a person cannot authorize someone else, including an attorney, to act on his or her behalf if the litigant lacks the mental ability to do so.
Herzer’s lawyers have long maintained that the 64-year-old Shari Redstone is controlling her father’s litigation against Herzer. They also maintain Shari Redstone engineered Herzer’s eviction from Redstone’s Beverly Park mansion in October 2015.
“In October 2014, Shari recognized and seized upon an opportunity to hijack Herzer’s relationship with Sumner when Sumner suffered a severe health crisis and largely lost the ability to communicate,” Herzer’s court papers state.
Attorneys for the former Viacom and CBS Corp. chairman counter that he understands the litigation and is making decisions. Redstone attorney Robert Klieger could not be reached for comment on Herzer’s dismissal motion.
Herzer’s lawsuit is set for trial in December 2019. Herzer alleges that Shari Redstone convinced the nurses serving her father to turn him against Herzer, who was forced to move out of the home in 2015. In her complaint filed in May 2016, Herzer maintains that the October 2015 revision of the Redstone trust deprived her of her claims to $50 million in cash and to Redstone’s mansion, which is valued at $20 million.
A hearing on Herzer’s dismissal motion is scheduled Oct. 26.
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