Sumner Redstone Trial: Judge Says Ex-Companion's Honesty Is a Key Issue

Sumner Redstone and Manuela Herzer Split-Getty-H 2016
David Livingston/Getty Images; Donato Sardella/Getty Images

The motives of media mogul Sumner Redstone's longtime companion are fair play in the upcoming trial over control of his healthcare.

Manuela Herzer, Redstone's ex-companion, sued last fall after being removed from his healthcare directive and kicked out of his mansion. She says the mogul didn't have the capacity to make that decision and was unduly influenced by those around him.

Meanwhile, Redstone's attorneys have portrayed the legal fight as nothing more than a financially motivated invasion of privacy and say he knew exactly what he was doing when he removed Herzer from his life.

Whether Herzer has been honest is a key issue.

"The court needs to find out one way or another whether she was dishonest to Mr. Redstone," judge David J. Cowan said in a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Herzer's attorneys, led by Pierce O'Donnell, had asked the court to exclude evidence about her motives to avoid any attacks on her character.

O'Donnell also asked Cowan to limit the testimony on whether Redstone was influenced by his inner circle to what he knew on Oct. 16, 2015 — the date of the directive Herzer is challenging — because anything he learned after that fact couldn't have affected his decision. Herzer's attorneys also want Redstone's legal team to be barred from presenting any "facts or reasons" at trial that they didn't disclose during discovery.

During the Thursday hearing, Cowan denied all three requests, along with a motion to further bifurcate the trial.

Attorneys say Redstone was deposed Thursday morning and it went smoothly and O'Donnell says he plans to use the video of that deposition early in the trial. That portion will be closed to the public and the media. Only attorneys for both sides, Herzer, Redstone's daughter Shari and two medical experts will be allowed to remain in the courtroom while the video is played.

Trial begins Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.

More to come.