Sumner Redstone Drama Cheat Sheet: Who's Suing Whom?

6:30 AM 8/11/2016

by Ashley Cullins

An Aug. 2 complaint against the 93-year-old mogul by his granddaughter joins an increasingly cluttered docket of Viacom-related litigation.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images;Donato Sardella/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images

93-year-old media mogul Sumner Redstone is at the center of bi-coastal legal battles involving a spurned former companion, an ousted trustee and an irritated stockholder — in addition to his daughter and granddaughter. 

With so many people fighting over control of Redstone's health care and his $40 billion empire, it's tough to keep the lawsuits and the motives straight. So as we head into what is expected to be a busy fall for Redstone's attorneys, The Hollywood Reporter put together a quick guide on who is suing whom and why in each case. 

  • Redstone, Sumner M. - Matter of

    Filed: November 25, 2015 | Status: Pending appeal in California

    Sumner Redstone's longtime companion Manuela Herzer filed a petition to regain control of his care, after being kicked out of the mogul's mansion and removed as an agent of his health care directive. Herzer claims Redstone is unfit to make important decisions and is being brainwashed by those around him — especially his daughter Shari. After months of litigation and mudslinging by both sides, the May trial was cut short after Judge David J. Cowan saw compelling video deposition testimony from Redstone in which he called Herzer a "f—ing bitch" through his interpreter. Herzer was denied a new trial in June, and her legal team is currently drawing up its appeal briefs.

  • Manuela Herzer v. Shari Redstone et al.

    Filed: May 9, 2016 | Status: Pending in L.A. County Superior Court

    Moments after Cowan ruled that Redstone knew exactly what he was doing when he removed his ex from his life and health care directive, Herzer's legal team announced a $100 million spying lawsuit against Redstone's daughter. The ousted former companion claims Shari enlisted her children and the mogul's staff to eavesdrop and illegally record private conversations within Redstone's Beverly Park Manson. "Without the intelligence-gathering operation (and massive invasion of privacy) initiated and orchestrated by Shari [and Shari's sons] Tyler and Brandon and carried out by the Staff Defendants, the Staff Defendants could not have succeeded in inducing Sumner to disinherit Herzer," states the complaint.

  • Philippe Dauman, George Abrams v. Sumner Redstone et al. - Redstone Legal Roundup

    Filed: May 23, 2016 | Status: Pending in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

    As mentioned above, Dauman and Abrams are challenging their removal from the National Amusements Trust and, interestingly, Viacom is footing their legal bills. The men argue Shari Redstone is trying to "illegally hijack her father’s well-established estate plan" and assume control of the company. The court denied a request to have Redstone's mental health immediately evaluated, but is allowing the lawsuit to proceed despite complaints from Redstone's camp that the trust dictates disputes should be handled in California. In a strange, but not unexpected, twist, the mogul's granddaughter Keryn Redstone recently made a move to join this case. Sumner's outspoken granddaughter has made it no secret that she despises her Aunt Shari, even depicting her as a vampire in a series of since-deleted tweets. After failing to join Herzer's probate case, she decided to jump on Dauman's lawsuit. On Wednesday, attorneys for Keryn Redstone filed a cross-complaint that says Sumner made it clear both publicly and privately that "his thankless child was intellectually and temperamentally unfit" to lead his companies and had created a "meticulous, ironclad succession plan" to ensure Shari wouldn't inherit control. In addition to looking out for her "Grumpy," Keryn is also after the $6 million she was set to receive before she was disinherited. The fight is expected to go to trial on Oct. 3.

  • Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust

    Filed: May 23, 2016 | Status: Pending in L.A. County Superior Court

    This is the one legal fight Redstone initiated — unless you believe allegations that Shari is pulling the strings in her father's name — and it's the counterpart to the lawsuit filed by ousted trustees Dauman and Abrams challenging their removal from the Sumner Redstone National Amusements Trust. Redstone argues, as he is the sole beneficiary of the Trust during his lifetime, he can add and remove trustees at will unless he is deemed incapacitated. The mogul is asking the court to validate his decision to remove Dauman and Abrams from his board. 

  • Frederic V. Salerno v. National Amusements, Viacom, et al.

    Filed: June 16, 2016 | Status: Pending in Delaware Chancery Court

    After several members of Viacom's board were fired, presumably at the hand of Sumner Redstone, the company's lead independent director Frederic Salerno filed a lawsuit in an effort to protect the status quo. Salerno claims it was Shari, not Sumner, who axed the board members in an effort to replace them with people who will do her bidding and help her obtain control of Viacom. The National Amusements board sent a snarky letter to Viacom directors in June, claiming the decision would still be valid even if Redstone lacked capacity and was being unduly influenced by his daughter. "There is no world in which Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams could have vetoed" the decision, the letter says. However, the court isn't so sure and in July denied a motion to dismiss the case, finding it's premature to rule as a matter of law and discovery is necessary. A trial in this lawsuit is expected the week of Oct. 31.

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