1:59pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Philippe Dauman Deposition Uncertain in Sumner Redstone Health Lawsuit
Sumner Redstone's attorneys are looking to dismiss a petition from ex-companion Manuela Herzer, and what's notable about their 52-page motion is that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman only comes up in reference to the fact that he's been appointed to be Redstone's new healthcare agent.
This limited inclusion of Dauman hardly seems to be an accident and could be beginning of a new challenge to the relevancy of deposing him.
Herzer went to court on Thanksgiving eve after being thrown out of Redstone's home and removed as the one to make healthcare decisions for the 92-year-old Viacom and CBS Corp. executive chairman.
The initial response by the Redstone camp was to attack Herzer's motives — saying the legal action was "all about Ms. Herzer's personal financial agenda" — and have others testify that Redstone was in good mental health and needn't be subjected to intrusive discovery about his condition.
Among the documents submitted in late November was a declaration from Dauman, who stated that during a visit to Redstone's home, "I found him to be engaged and attentive ... Sumner and I spoke about business matters, including the upcoming Viacom board meeting."
At a hearing in late November, a judge ruled there was no urgency to the situation and set a court date of Jan. 27 to consider Redstone's motion to dismiss Herzer's lawsuit. In mid-December, the judge granted limited discovery, including what seemed at the time to be permission to depose Dauman. The judge did wonder whether he had the power to force Dauman to be deposed, since the executive is a resident of New York, and told the parties to work it out.
The new year now begins with a restrained motion to dismiss from Redstone's camp.
It's largely a plea to the judge that Redstone "deserves to be left in peace." This time, Redstone's attorneys leave out word of what Dauman thinks of Redstone's condition.
Soon after the filing, Herzer's attorney Pierce O'Donnell asked, "Where is Philippe Dauman?" O'Donnell put out word that Dauman was "dodging" a deposition, though the Herzer camp has refused to explain how or provide any documents that substantiate that Dauman is really ducking.
O'Donnell has pledged to serve a subpoena to compel Dauman's testimony, but when that happens, Herzer will probably be asked to explain why it's relevant, since the motion to dismiss hardly relies on Dauman's opinion.
Upon a request for information about whether Dauman is really dodging, Redstone's attorney Gabrielle Vidal of Loeb & Loeb gave The Hollywood Reporter this carefully worded statement: "This action is about the healthcare decisions of a 92-year-old man whose own doctor confirms his ability to make them. We appreciate the Court’s express regard for Mr. Redstone’s privacy and leave it to the Court to decide what additional information it needs to consider Mr. Redstone’s Motion to Dismiss."