Shari Redstone Wins First Round in Spying Lawsuit From Sumner's Ex-Companion

However, Manuela Herzer gets to take another shot at her claims against the media mogul's daughter, grandsons and household staff.
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Shari Redstone (left), Manuela Herzer

Sumner Redstone's ex-companion Manuela Herzer will have another shot at her spying lawsuit against several members of the mogul's family and household staff — but this round of the legal duel between friend and daughter goes to Shari Redstone as a judge has held the plaintiff didn't adequately allege her claims.

The latest chapter of the constantly evolving legal battle over Redstone's health began in May, mere minutes after a judge ruled that Redstone knew what he was doing when he removed Herzer from his healthcare directive and his home. Herzer claims Shari, her sons and a slew of Redstone employees conspired to disinherit her. 

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Suzanne Bruguera on Wednesday granted a demurrer with leave to amend to Herzer's claim of intentional interference with expected inheritance, two common law invasion of privacy claims and one statutory privacy claim. 

"Plaintiff did not allege facts showing Defendants invaded her privacy," Bruguera writes in her tentative ruling. "Plaintiff's conclusory allegations that employees gathered private and confidential information about her and relayed it to Defendant are insufficient."

Nine attorneys appeared at the Wednesday morning hearing, which Herzer's lead lawyer Pierce O'Donnell described as "a small turnout" compared to the legal battles playing out on the East Coast. The mood was much more relaxed and amiable than prior California proceedings, perhaps in part due to the recent settlement of ousted Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman's lawsuit. (One down, four to go.) All of the attorneys agreed to stipulate to Bruguera's tentative ruling.

Sumner Redstone's longtime driver Isileli Tuanaki also challenged the adequacy of Herzer's lawsuit in proving he breached his non-disclosure agreement with Redstone. Bruguera agreed, finding that Herzer did not adequately allege facts suggesting that she is a third-party beneficiary to the agreement and therefore entitled to sue.

After the hearing, O'Donnell told reporters that Shari Redstone's "knock-out punch" failed to land, as the demurrer was granted with leave to amend and his team gets to take another shot at the claims. 

The next hearing is set for Nov. 7. In the meantime, Bruguera has urged the parties to resolve this matter in mediation, saying, "I really want to push the settlement." 

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