Judge Dismisses Redstone Mental Competency Case


After just one day of trial testimony, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan today granted a motion by Hueston Hennigan client Sumner M. Redstone to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Redstone's mental competency.

The suit, filed in November by Manuela Herzer, a former companion of Redstone's, alleged that the chairman emeritus of Viacom and CBS lacked the capacity or was unduly influenced to make changes in October 2015 to his advanced health care directive, including removing Herzer as his health care agent.

The trial began with what the court described as "brief but compelling" video testimony from Redstone. It was followed by testimony from Herzer's expert, geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Read. Under cross-examination, Read acknowledged that Redstone understood the changes he made to his health care directive, and that it was rational for him to remove Herzer as his agent after terminating his relationship with her.

In light of the first day's testimony, Hueston Hennigan and co-counsel Loeb & Loeb renewed a motion on behalf of Redstone to dismiss the case pursuant to the California Probate Code as "not reasonably necessary" to protect Redstone's interest. After reviewing briefs from both sides, Judge Cowan today granted the motion and dismissed Herzer's petition with prejudice.

"There is no good cause for further judicial involvement where the court has now heard directly from Redstone that he has lost trust in Herzer, does not want her in his life, and instead wants his daughter Shari, to look after him if necessary," Judge Cowan wrote in a 17-page ruling.

"Despite a severe speech impairment, Mr. Redstone told the Court in clear and unequivocal terms that he does not want Ms. Herzer in his life or on his advance health care directive," said attorney Robert Klieger. "We are gratified that Judge Cowan respected Mr. Redstone's wishes in his thoughtful ruling, and also for the steps Judge Cowan took throughout the proceedings to protect Mr. Redstone's privacy and dignity."

The Hueston Hennigan trial team included Robert Klieger, Marshall Camp, Douglas Dixon, Andrew Walsh, Khaldoun Shobaki, Michael Stephan, Courtney Black, Joseph Reiter and John Scheerer.

News coverage of the case:

Los Angeles Times

New York Times

Wall Street Journal