Sumner Redstone has one less legal fight to concern himself with after a California appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2016 decision to dismiss a lawsuit over who should make decisions regarding the 94-year-old’s health care.
Redstone’s former companion, Manuela Herzer, sued shortly after being kicked out of the billionaire’s Beverly Park mansion in 2015, claiming he had been unduly influenced by those around him and lacked the capacity to remove her as the person in control of his health care directive.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan in May 2016 dismissed Herzer’s case mid-trial, after finding that the mogul’s video testimony made it clear he had strong feelings about his former friend and it wasn’t appropriate for her to regain control of his care. (He didn’t reach the issue of Redstone’s mental capacity and whether he’s vulnerable to undue influence.)
“Redstone made crystal clear at his deposition that the reason he did not want Herzer as his agent was that he had kicked her out of his home,” the judge wrote in his decision. “He did not trust her because he believed she had lied to him and stolen money from him. He also recalled what she had lied to him about. The Court can think of no more rational reason to change one’s agent.”
Herzer moved for a new trial, but Cowan rejected her motion. California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld that ruling and the dismissal, finding Cowan was correct that “the proceeding was not reasonably necessary to protect Redstone’s interests.”
“Determinations that Redstone lacked capacity in October 2015 and April 2016, and was subject to undue influence at those times, would not have impacted the court’s decision that it was not in Redstone’s interests for Herzer to act as his agent,” writes presiding justice Tricia Bigelow. “[S]o long as Redstone’s testimony accurately reflected his feelings and desires, the court had a sufficient basis for finding Herzer should not serve as his agent.”
Redstone’s attorney Robert Klieger on Tuesday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the decision: “Mr. Redstone is pleased with the ruling and grateful that his wishes will continue to be respected.”
Herzer’s attorney Ronald Richards also sent THR an email statement, indicating her other cases against Redstone and his family are more important than this one was.
“It is a non-binding unpublished Opinion that is dwarfed by the new actions Ms. Herzer has filed which will get to the merits,” Richards wrote. “Since the court decided not to publish the opinion it’ll be up to the next litigant to get some guidance on a very narrow issue of California law related to advanced health care directors. It is a shame that Redstone’s manipulated decision will go basically unreviewed as of now on this issue but justice is coming soon for Ms. Herzer and her longtime friend Sumner Redstone.”
The full opinion is posted below.