In advance of an upcoming hearing, attorneys for Sumner Redstone have submitted sworn statements from those close to him in support of their opposition to a request by his former live-in companion that the 95-year-old billionaire be examined by an independent mental health expert.
The disagreement between Redstone’s legal team and Manuela Herzer is headed for a showdown hearing on Friday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan. In addition, trial is scheduled Jan. 14 trial on the validity of Redstone’s modification of his trust that deprived Herzer of about $70 million in cash and real estate that she alleges he promised her.
Herzer maintains the former Viacom and CBS Corp. chairman lacked the mental capacity to modify the trust, but Redstone attorney Robert Klieger disputed that argument.
“Based on my interactions with Mr. Redstone, I have been and remain confident that Mr. Redstone understands what I discuss with him regarding the various litigations and … that he continues to have capacity to make decisions about litigation matters,” Klieger says in his declaration.
Although Redstone has difficulty speaking, he uses an iPad to answer questions, according to Klieger, who maintains that ordering an independent psychological evaluation of his client would invade his privacy.
Another Redstone lawyer, Gabrielle Vidal, says in her declaration that although Redstone’s ability to speak has “declined substantially” in recent years, he still “retains his ability to communicate his emotions and continues to do so in our meetings.”
Jeremy Jagiello, an in-house nurse for Redstone, says in his declaration that despite his boss’ speech problems, he “is capable of understanding individuals who interact with him.”
In still another sworn statement, Dr. Richard Gold, Redstone’s primary physician, said his patient has “an ability to make and communicate his own health care decisions.”
In their court papers, Herzer’s lawyers say trust controversies such as those involving Redstone 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 lawyer Ronald Richards maintains that Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, is actually making the trust decisions that have negatively affected Herzer’s financial interests. He says that the October 2015 revision of the Redstone trust 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 say they disagree with Richards that if Redstone is found to be mentally incapacitated, his petition for validation of the trust amendment must be dismissed. Redstone has appointed his daughter Shari through a power-of-attorney to act as his agent in the event he is found to be mentally unfit, according to the court papers submitted by his attorneys.
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