A judge said Wednesday that before she issues a final ruling on a motion to disqualify a law firm from representing Summer Redstone and his daughter, she will view a video that a former live-in companion of the 95-year-old billionaire says provides insight into the current mental capacity of the former media mogul.
Plaintiff Manuela Herzer sued Shari Redstone in 2016, alleging she was behind her father’s decisions to remove Herzer from the Redstone mansion in 2015 as well as trust decisions that Herzer says deprived her of millions of dollars in assets.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Nieto issued a tentative ruling denying Herzer’s motion to remove lawyers from Hueston, Hennigan LLP from representing Redstone his elder abuse lawsuit against Herzer. The motion also seeks to remove the firm from representing Shari Redstone in the suit filed against her by Herzer.
Herzer maintains Hueston, Hennigan has access to privileged communications from the time she was in the Redstone household that would give Shari Redstone and advantage in fighting Herzer’s suit.
“Sumner was adamant that Shari not interfere in his estate plan and his bequests to friends and family,” Herzer says in a sworn statement.
After hearing arguments from attorneys and meeting with them in chambers, Nieto said she will defer a final ruling on the motion until Oct. 26. In the meantime, she said, she will review other evidence from Herzer’s lawyers, including a video made by Redstone friend Arnold Kopelson in January. Herzer’s attorneys say the footage demonstrates that Redstone lacks the mental capacity to make decisions in the ongoing litigation.
“When you see this, you’re going to be mortified,” Herzer attorney Ronald Richards told Nieto.
Richards and Herzer’s other attorneys maintain the video will rebut claims by lawyers for Hueston, Hennigan that Redstone knew what he was doing when he signed multiple waivers beginning in 2016 in which he agreed to have the firm represent both him and his daughter. Hueston, Hennigan lawyer Robert Klieger said that Redstone’s demeanor on the video could be explained by his just having awakened before the footage was shot.
Herzer was present in court and so was former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said after the hearing that he sees “intriguing issues” in Herzer’s case and may be doing some investigative work on her behalf.
Herzer’s lawsuit is set for trial in December 2019. Herzer alleges that Shari Redstone convinced the nurses serving her father at his Beverly Park mansion to turn him against Herzer, who was forced to move out of the home in 2015. In her complaint filed in May 2016, Herzer maintains that the October 2015 revision of the Redstone trust deprived her of her claims to $50 million in cash and to Redstone’s 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 lawsuit against Herzer seeks to recover assets he alleges she wrongfully extracted from him. The case is set for trial in February 2020.
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