A former live-in companion of Sumner Redstone is seeking dismissal until after his death 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, but an attorney for Redstone said Tuesday his side will only go along if the petition is dropped for good.
Redstone’s lawyer, Robert Klieger said after a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing on the case that he does not expect Manuela Herzer will agree to permanently drop her petition, meaning Judge David Cowan will have to make the call. Klieger said he found it interesting that Herzer is seeking dismissal of the very court action she brought in May 2017.
Herzer’s lawyers contend 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 she can bring the action again when it makes sense to do so.
In their court papers, Herzer’s lawyers say trust contests of this nature are typically filed after the trustor dies and the trust becomes irrevocable. They allege Redstone will remain subject to “undue influence or fraud” until his death.
Herzer’s petition was brought in response to a ruling by Judge Robert Hess that her inheritance claim — which originally was part of her lawsuit against Shari Redstone — should have been brought in probate court.
Herzer’s petition asked that an amendment to the Redstone trust that eliminated her as a beneficiary be invalidated. The October 2015 revision deprived Herzer of her claims to $50 million in cash and to Redstone’s Beverly Park 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.
Redstone’s lawyers want the judge to validate the trust amendment. Cowan said during Tuesday’s hearing that he will hear both petitions on May 15.
“I think it makes sense to proceed in parallel,” Cowan said.
The judge told Herzer’s lawyer, Mary-Felicia Apanius, to be prepared for whatever way he may rule because the case will move to trial if the dismissal motion is not granted.
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.