3:09pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Philippe Dauman's Sumner Redstone Legal Battle Very Much on Fast Track
Will those involved in Viacom chief Philippe Dauman's legal battle over his removal from the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust really be ready to go to trial by next month?
Well, a Massachusetts probate judge on Friday thought so, setting an ambitious trial date of Sept. 19 to hear evidence on Dauman's allegations that Shari Redstone has manipulated her father and subverted the administration of the trust, which exerts its influence over National Amusements, owning 80 percent of both Viacom and CBS' stock.
That doesn't necessarily mean there definitely will be a trial. The possibility of settlement and any interim motions loom. But if a trial does happen without any further delay, the several dozen lawyers involved in the battle could be bringing to a public forum more revelations about the condition of 93-year-old Sumner Redstone and, possibly, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering over his media empire.
It appears that Redstone also will be deposed in the coming weeks, though the scope of questions directed his way and the conditions on which he appears could be a subject of judicial review before the trial begins. The Massachusetts judge will hear that topic at a hearing on Aug. 26.
A judge in Delaware, presiding over Viacom lead independent director Frederic Salerno's own lawsuit over the Redstones' decisions regarding the company, similarly will entertain discovery disputes and more in anticipation of a trial scheduled (hopefully in pencil) for Oct. 31.
At the very least, the litigants involved won't have to worry about the third lawsuit that was filed by Sumner Redstone in California. Given the tight scheduling and the East Coast judges' recent decisions moving the case forward, the mogul's attorneys have seen the wisdom of asking a court to pause those proceedings.