A former live-in companion of Sumner Redstone is seeking dismissal — for now — of her probate court petition challenging the 94-year-old billionaire’s modification of his trust, which deprived her of about $70 million in cash and real estate that she alleges he promised her, the woman’s attorney said Friday.
Manuela Herzer’s lawyer, Ronald Richards, contends Redstone’s daughter, Shari, is actually making the trust decisions that have negatively affected the petitioner’s financial interests. Herzer’s request for dismissal was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and is “without prejudice,” meaning shecan bring the action again when it makes sense to do so, her lawyer said.
In his court papers, Richards said trust contests of this nature are typically filed after the trustor dies and the trust becomes irrevocable. He alleged Redstone will remain subject to “undue influence or fraud” until his death.
“Sumner Redstone is still alive and he can change his mind,” Richards said. “Due to the constant manipulation and undue influence by Shari Redstone as alleged in the other open actions, it is better to wait until things are final rather than engage in advisory litigation which is vulnerable to reversal on appeal.”
Herzer’s petition was brought in June 2017 in response to a ruling two months earlier by Judge Robert Hess that Herzer’s inheritance claim — which originally was part of her lawsuit against Shari Redstone — should have been brought in probate court.
Herzer was a longtime friend of Redstone, and she formerly lived at his Beverly Park mansion. Her petition asked that an amendment to the Redstone trust that eliminated her as a beneficiary be invalidated. The October 2015 revision by Redstone deprived Herzer of her claims to $50 million in cash and to his mansion, which is valued at $20 million.
Redstone also removed Herzer from his charitable foundation, which is largely devoted to advancements in cancer treatment and burn recovery, according to her court papers, which state that she was “significantly involved” with the charity.
“Through deceit, treachery, lying, spying, an unlawful eviction and bribery, Shari had accomplished her objective to influence Sumner,” the petition alleged.
Redstone kicked another former live-in girlfriend, Sydney Holland, out of his home in September 2015 after accusing her of cheating on him. A month later, he evicted Herzer, amended his trust and revoked her ability to make health care decisions on his behalf.
Herzer previously filed a court action asking a judge to find that Redstone lacked the mental capacity to remove her as his health care agent, but her case was dismissed in May 2016 after one day of trial testimony. Herzer then immediately sued Shari Redstone and the latter’s son, Tyler Korff. Those claims are still pending trial.