A geriatrician contends in new court papers that based on a video taken of Sumner Redstone in January, it is “extremely unlikely” the 95-year-old former media mogul is mentally capable of making decisions about pending litigation, including two suits dealing with a former live-in companion.
In court papers filed Wednesday on behalf of former Redstone live-in companion Manuela Herzer, Dr. David W. Trader states that on Sept. 6, he watched footage that Redstone friend Arnold Kopelson shot with an iPhone at Redstone’s Beverly Park mansion on Jan. 28. He said his background conducting clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease makes him “well-versed” in state laws regarding legal mental capacity.
“Based on the video received, I have serious concerns about Sumner Redstone’s cognitive capacity at the time the video was made,” Trader contends in Herzer’s court papers.
Trader also claims it is “extremely unlikely” that the former Viacom and CBS Corp. chairman has the mental capacity to hire, direct and maintain his lawyers or direct the litigation. However, Trader also says he cannot determine from the video alone Redstone the “nature and extent” of Redstone’s medical condition or his future prognosis. Those questions could be best ascertained by an interview of Redstone by an independent medical examiner, he said.
Most of Trader’s remarks are redacted in Herzer’s court papers.
Herzer’s lawyers have long maintained that Redstone’s daughter, 64-year-old Shari Redstone, is controlling the litigation involving their client. Redstone’s lawyers counter that he understands the litigation and is making decisions. They oppose the appointment of an independent medical examiner.
On Wednesday, after meeting with the lawyers in chambers, Judge Patricia Nieto said she would watch the Kopelson video before she issues a final ruling on a Herzer motion to disqualify the Hueston, Hennigan LLP law firm from representing Redstone and his daughter.
Redstone has sued Herzer for elder abuse, while Herzer has an ongoing suit against Shari Redstone. Herzer maintains the law firm has access to privileged communications from the time she was in the Redstone household that would give Shari Redstone an advantage in fighting Herzer’s suit.
Nieto issued a tentative ruling denying Herzer’s motion, but agreed to defer a final decision until Oct. 26. Herzer’s attorneys say the Trader conclusions support their claims that the Kopelson footage demonstrates that Redstone lacks the mental capacity to make decisions in the ongoing litigation.
Redstone’s lawyers counter 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 Redstone’s demeanor on the video could be explained by his just having awakened before the footage was shot.
Herzer’s lawsuit is set for trial in December 2019. Herzer alleges that Shari Redstone convinced the nurses serving her father 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’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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