Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan has denied a motion by Viacom chairman emeritus Sumner Redstone’s attorneys to dismiss a lawsuit by his former girlfriend questioning his competency, scheduling a trial to decide the matter a little more than two months away.
The decision by Judge Cowan to allow the suit to go forward is a victory for Redstone’s former companion and caregiver Manuela Herzer, who first shone a spotlight on the 92-year-old Redstone’s deteriorating health in November. In that suit Herzer claimed Redstone was unaware of his surroundings and could no longer make health care decisions for herself. Herzer objected to being removed as Redstone’s health care agent – a role picked up by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and claimed that Redstone had become “a living ghost.”
While Viacom and Dauman have claimed Redstone is alert and aware – although a series of strokes have diminished his ability to communicate – Redstone stepped down as executive chairman of both Viacom and CBS in February, giving those roles to CBS chief Les Moonves and Viacom’s Dauman, respectively.
In his ruling, Cowan cited a 37-page report from Dr. Stephen Read, who Herzer hired, that depicts the former executive as lacking the capacity to make personal health care and financial decisions.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cowan wrote the Read report provided enough details to “raise a reasonable question about whether Redstone lacks capacity.” He set a court date for May 6 on the matter.