A lawsuit against the granddaughter of the late media magnate Sumner Redstone, in which a man alleges she falsely accused him of stealing money from her and pointing a gun at her head, can proceed, a judge ruled Thursday in denying the granddaughter’s motion to dismiss most of the complaint on free-speech grounds.
Keryn Redstone attacked plaintiff Scott Michael Nathan’s lawsuit under the state’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law, which was written to prevent people from using courts and potential threats of a lawsuit to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Redstone maintained that the claims her motion addressed arose from protected activity under the state Civil Code because they were premised on statements relating to a police report, an argument that was rejected by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin C. Brazile.
“It doesn’t matter that some of the subject statements were also made to the police,” the judge wrote. ” This is because the claims at issue target only statements made to private parties or the public that do not apparently achieve the objectives of any investigation or litigation.”
Nathan’s original lawsuit was filed last Aug. 24. The most recently amended version alleges defamation, breach of oral contract, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional interference with contractual relations.
Nathan works as an estate manager and personal assistant who provides services to clients who need help managing their lives. He and Redstone met in 2017 and in August of that year, she called saying she wanted to hire him as her estate manager and personal assistant to manage her life, offering a $50,000 bonus upon starting work, the amended suit states.
“His job was, in summary, to manage her otherwise chaotic life,” the amended suit states. Redstone denies that she hired him for any position.
Redstone “appears to have severe mental health and substance abuse problems and is so dysfunctional that she cannot manage her domestic affairs,” according to the amended suit, which further alleges that Nathan’s job included cooking meals, ordering groceries, shopping for her and managing her home.
Redstone paid Nathan and reimbursed him for his expenses via PayPal, but he was never given the promised bonus, the amended suit states.
After Nathan helped Redstone move into a new home in Brentwood in 2021, she asked him to work for her on a full-time basis and move into her residence, the suit states. She once offered him $24,000 if he left his apartment for her residence, but she reneged, the amended suit alleges.
Nathan stopped working for Redstone on Oct. 1, 2021, prompting her to start “a vendetta of threats, lies and intimidation” against the plaintiff, including telling several acquaintances that he had committed various crimes of theft or violence against her and that she intended to have him “killed or seriously injured,” the amended suit states.
Redstone was aware that the people to whom she spoke knew Nathan and would feel obligated to tell him what she had said, causing him to become “terrified and in fear for his life and personal safety because he believed that Redstone was so angry, wealthy and deranged that she was capable of paying a criminal to have him killed or badly beaten up,” according to the amended suit.
Nathan alleges that Redstone contacted PayPal and complained that Nathan had stolen money from her, causing him to have a deficit of more than $50,000 in his account and damaging his credit.
Redstone maintained that she exercised her constitutional rights in reporting Nathan’s alleged criminal misconduct to police. She stated in her court papers that the plaintiff himself is “unhinged” and threatened her with a firearm when she asked him to leave her home in 2021.
“At some point during (our) interaction, plaintiff drew a firearm and pointed it at my head,” Keryn Redstone said of Nathan in a sworn declaration. “Terrified for my safety and unable to reach my phone to call for help, I retreated to another room, hoping plaintiff would calm down,” she said.
Redstone says she waited for Nathan to fall asleep, then called the police.
“At no time did I threaten plaintiff with any harm either directly or to any third parties,” according to Redstone, whose late grandfather, a billionaire and former Viacom chairman, died in Los Angeles in August 2020 at age 97.
Redstone says she met Nathan in 1997 and that the two remained social acquaintances. Nathan contacted her in April 2021 to express his condolences for her grandfather’s death and four months later she sent Nathan her phone number, Redstone says.
During an ensuing visit to Redstone’s home, Nathan said he was ill and broke, according to Redstone.
“Feeling sorry for plaintiff, and concerned for plaintiff’s well-being, I wired plaintiff several thousand dollars to assist him with getting back on his feet,” Redstone says. “These funds were a gift to plaintiff to help him with his situation, which at the time, according to him, was dire.”
Redstone says the two began to socialize and she asked Nathan to spend a night or two in her new home in September 2021 so she would not be alone.
“Upon moving into my residence, plaintiff began to take steps to insert himself into my life,” Redstone says. “He continuously asked me to invest funds into various business ventures.”
Redstone says she never hired Nathan for a position, although he sometimes helped her with household chores and errands during his 11-day stay “ostensibly out of gratitude for being allowed to use my residence.”
After a few days, Nathan demonstrated “mental instability” and became aggressive and threatening towards Redstone, demanding that she buy a vehicle for him and provide him money while also fixating on her cat, threatening to shoot her dogs in order to protect the feline, according to Redstone.
By late September 2021, Redstone says, she could “no longer tolerate plaintiff’s unhinged behavior, demands and threats. I peacefully asked plaintiff to leave my residence and not return,” she said.
Redstone alleges Nathan used her cell phone to transfer funds to himself from her PayPal and other accounts multiple times without her approval.