Attorneys for Sumner Redstone say the latest attempt by lawyers for his former live-in companion to take the billionaire TV mogul’s deposition should be denied in order to safeguard his health.
“(Manuela) Herzer has made it abundantly clear that she will stop at nothing to obtain $70 million upon Redstone’s passing,” the businessman’s lawyers state in their court papers filed in opposition to Herzer’s motion to compel his deposition.
Herzer has already “struck out twice” with similar motions, according to Redstone’s lawyers. Although she is entitled to try again, she is “not entitled to kill Redstone in the process,” they say in their court papers.
The attorneys say Redstone’s health is so fragile that the intensity of a sworn deposition could be fatal.
Although state law is not as clear on the subject, federal law gives judges discretion to prevent depositions where the person to be questioned could risk be at risk of serious harm, according to Redstone’s attorneys.
Judge Robert Hess issued an order in a related action directing that Redstone’s deposition not be taken until his health improves, according to his lawyers’ court papers.
A hearing that was originally scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court is now rescheduled for July 21, when Judge David Cowan is expected to decide whether he will rule on the motion or leave it to another judicial officer. Cowan dismissed Herzer’s first probate action regarding Redstone in 2016.
The latest round in the Herzer-Redstone litigation began Tuesday when the woman’s lawyers filed court papers stating that they want to question the media mogul about why he made changes in his estate plan that so negatively impacted their client and what facts or individuals influenced him to do so. Herzer and another of Redstone’s former live-in companions, Sydney Holland, have questioned whether the 94-year-old businessman or his daughter, Shari, made those choices.
“Because of Redstone’s advanced age and declining health, it is imperative that his deposition be taken as soon as practicably possible,” Herzer’s lawyers wrote.
In a subsequent statement, Herzer’s lawyers said, “Mr. Redstone’s attorney, Robert Klieger, and his Daughter Shari Redstone, continue to distort the facts in this matter as they see fit and in conflict with Mr. Redstone’s long time wishes. They are the only individuals who can cause detriment to Mr. Redstone by continuing their charade and fraud. Mr. Klieger continues to attack Mr. Redstone’s longtime friend and companion Ms. Herzer’s good name and character.”
Redstone did give a brief deposition in one of those other cases in May 2016, but Herzer’s lawyers maintain it was insufficient. They say a longer session would be fair to Redstone if he is offered the opportunity to give it in his own home. They also say he could have the help of a speech therapist and that the deposition can be broken up into several sessions.
Redstone was executive chairman of both Viacom and CBS Corp. until stepping down in February 2016.
–City News Service
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