A judge said Wednesday that he wants more briefing on why a grandson of billionaire Sumner Redstone has a legal right to ask that a guardian ad litem be named to protect the 95-year-old media mogul’s interests in his legal battles with a former live-in companion.
Tyler Korff’s petition, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, states the guardian ad litem will “safeguard the actual and perceived integrity of the proceedings to all interested parties and the public.”
But Judge David Cowan said he wants to know what standing Korff has to bring the petition and what Redstone’s former live-in companion, Manuela Herzer, hopes to learn by her request to depose Korff.
Cowan also said that although Korff has recommended that either Jackson Chen or Samuel Ingham III be appointed on Redstone’s behalf, the judge believes he should make the choice of a guardian ad litem — if he decides to appoint one — to ensure impartiality. He scheduled another hearing for Monday.
Both Ingham and Chen are probate attorneys. Ingham has represented Britney Spears in her ongoing conservatorship imposed by a judge in 2008 after the singer exhibited bizarre behavior.
Cowan additionally said that if he elects to appoint a guardian ad litem, he probably will not grant Herzer’s request that he name a doctor or psychiatrist to examine Redstone’s mental state. Herzer’s lawyers maintain an independent medical exam is necessary to bolster their argument that Redstone has not had the capacity to direct the litigation for some time.
Redstone has an open case against Herzer that seeks to recover assets he alleges she wrongfully extracted from him. The case is set for trial in February 2020, but Redstone’s lawyers are asking for a date in 2019 because of their client’s age.
Herzer alleges in a separate lawsuit that Shari Redstone convinced the nurses serving her father to turn him against Herzer, who was forced to move out of the billionaire’s 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 Beverly Park mansion, which is valued at $20 million.
Trial of Herzer’s suit is scheduled for December 2019. But scheduled ahead of both cases is a Jan. 14 trial of Redstone’s petition to affirm the validity of the trust revision. Cowan said he wants to start the trial on that date. Herzer’s lawyers maintain Redstone was mentally incompetent when the petition was filed in April.
Lawyers for the former chairman of CBS and Viacom have argued their client is not incapacitated and that the guardian ad litem’s role would be to protect his interests and argue on his behalf because Redstone lacks the ability to communicate normally. His lawyers said he answers questions by writing his responses on an iPad.
But Herzer’s lawyers say the Korff application bolsters their contention that Redstone is not competent to control the litigation and that it is actually being directed by his daughter, Shari, a longtime Herzer adversary. Redstone’s lawyers filed court papers stating they support Korff’s guardian ad litem petition.
Korff’s court papers state that Redstone “suffers from a number of health conditions, including most notably a severe speech impairment that limits his ability to communicate verbally.”
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