A judge ruled Monday that a former girlfriend of Sumner Redstone is not entitled to a new trial of her petition concerning who should control the 93-year-old media mogul’s medical care.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan, in a 21-page ruling, found that he did not have to hear all of the evidence before dismissing the action in May and also concluded that Manuela Herzer’s lawyers had not presented any new evidence warranting a new trial.
“The court … must consider what is in Redstone’s interests as a patient, including protecting his dignity and privacy,” Cowan wrote. “The court found that a trial was contrary to those interests. This case is not theater and this court is not in the business of providing a spectacle; this is about protecting the health of a man in his twilight years in the privacy of his home …”
Subjecting Redstone to a “warrantless trial” which he is not healthy enough to attend “would be a cruel twist indeed,” Cowan said.
The ruling was a victory for Redstone and his attorneys, who stated in their court papers opposing a retrial that the case was about “who Sumner Redstone wants to act as his agent and make his life-and-death health care decisions in the event he becomes incapable of making them on his own.”
Robert Klieger, one of Redstone’s attorneys, declined to comment after the hearing.
Herzer’s lead attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, said an expedited appeal will be filed with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, but will likely take several months. He said he respectfully disagreed with Cowan for declining to hear Herzer’s entire case.
“Evidence is the mother’s milk of justice,” O’Donnell said.
Herzer contends she oversaw Redstone’s daily care until she was evicted from his house last Oct. 12 in a confrontation with his driver, who told her, “Mr. Redstone doesn’t want you here.”
O’Donnell told Cowan he never took time to hear why Redstone removed Herzer.
“Don’t we want to know how he got there?”, O’Donnell asked Cowan.
But Cowan wrote that the two main reasons he dismissed Herzer’s petition were that Redstone testified via video deposition that he did not want her to make health care decisions on his behalf, as well as the testimony of Redstone’s psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Read, that it would “be very difficult for Herzer to now act as Redstone’s agent.”
The judge also said that the new evidence cited by Herzer’s lawyers was largely generated by news accounts.
“This court will not draw conclusions upon things that may have been said to reporters or presented only in the media,” Cowan wrote.
Cowan also stated in a footnote in his ruling that he never drew any conclusions as to whether Herzer’s actions were financially motivated. However, he noted that shortly after he dismissed her petition, Herzer filed a lawsuit seeking damages against Redstone’s daughter, Shari, maintaining that she was behind Herzer’s removal.
“The filing of that other case may somewhat undercut Herzer’s professing herein to be interested only in Redstone’s health and welfare,” Cowan wrote.
Ronald Richards, another of Herzer’s lawyers, said gathering the record for the appeals court will be easier than in most cases because Cowan dismissed the case after only one day of trial.
Redstone was executive chairman of both Viacom and CBS Corp. until stepping down in February.
—City News Service
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