10:38am PT by Eriq Gardner
Sumner Redstone's Ex Points to Mogul's "Forged" Signature
Sumner Redstone's former companion Manuela Herzer is keeping up pressure to ascertain the mental and physical condition of the Viacom and CBS Corp. executive chairman.
Late last month, a judge ruled there was no urgency in Herzer's fight to regain control of healthcare decisions for the ailing 92-year-old billionaire. On Monday, with continuing potential impact for Redstone's media empire, Herzer's attorneys are again pushing for expedited discovery and telling a judge that a fraud has been perpetrated on the court.
Specifically, Herzer is slamming the legal papers that were filed by Redstone's reps on Nov. 25.
At the time, in response to Herzer's word that he had become a "living ghost" with "profound psychiatric issues," Redstone's lawyers submitted a health care directive signed by Redstone in the aftermath of kicking Herzer out of their home. Redstone appointed Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman to act as his health care proxy. Dauman declared Redstone to be "engaged and attentive."
Herzer is suspicious and submits a declaration from a handwriting expert.
"Discovery must proceed in order to ascertain who forged Mr. Redstone's signature, why someone else signed his name, and whether Mr. Redstone is a captive in his own home being manipulated by unknown persons whose personal interests are furthered by falsely portraying him as competent and in charge of his health care decision-making," states an ex parte application filed by Herzer. "The answers to these questions may very well determine the outcome of this case."
Elsewhere in more than 200 pages of filings, Herzer attacks Dauman's declaration as "riddled with falsehoods" (she says she was present during the Viacom chief's visit) and seeks to submit an audio recording under seal. The recording is said to be from September and a show of Redstone's diminished condition.
Attorneys for Redstone respond to the new application by arguing there's no need of a "do-over of the November 30" hearing and reiterate their contention that this is all about Herzer's pursuit of money.
"So why the legal action?" they ask in their opposition brief. "Ms. Herzer suspects that when Mr. Redstone executed the October AHCD, he also amended his estate plan such that whatever benefit might previously have accrued to her was eliminated. She is looking to build a record for the post-death trust contest she intends to bring, and this is her hook."
In a footnote, Redstone's lawyers add, "But to be clear, the contract was not forged, and the suggestion that Loeb & Loeb LLP perpetrated a fraud on this Court is offensive in the extreme and absolutely false. Mr. Redstone's counsel, Gabrielle Vidal, brought the contract to Mr. Redstone and watched him sign it."
Redstone's attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss that it will be heard in January, and until then, discovery has been paused. Herzer is attempting to vacate this while Redstone's lawyers urge the judge not to be distracted by such "an unnecessary sideshow" as the Redstone audio recording. They say his doctor has already admitted to a speech impairment and that it hardly changes the situation nor makes a physical disability into a mental one.