10:09am PT by Ashley Cullins
Sumner Redstone's Speech Impairment Warrants a Legal Guardian, Judge Rules
Media mogul Sumner Redstone will have an independent attorney looking out for his interests during his legal fight with a former companion.
Manuela Herzer launched the legal battle in 2015, after she was kicked out of Redstone's mansion and removed as the person in charge of his healthcare directive. Since then, the fight has exploded on multiple fronts. It now includes a Redstone suit against Herzer, and his former fiancee Sydney Holland, accusing the women of elder abuse and claims by the women that the mogul's daughter, Shari Redstone, enlisted household staff to spy on Herzer and Holland in an effort to push them out of her father's life. The key issues across the various litigation are whether Redstone had the mental capacity necessary to make those changes to his estate plans and if he's susceptible to undue influence.
Judge David Cowan on Monday granted Redstone's grandson Tyler Korff's petition for a guardian ad litem — but stopped well short of declaring that Redstone lacks capacity to make his own decisions. Instead, it's Redstone's severe speech impediment that forms the basis for his ruling.
"The court is finding that Mr. Redstone is incapacitated not because of his being incompetent, but, rather, because of his dysarthria," said Cowan, explaining that it "makes no sense" to require a finding of incapacity to appoint a guardian ad litem. He also found he does not yet need to determine the level of Redstone's dementia.
Cowan on Monday denied with leave to amend Herzer's request that an independent doctor examine Redstone. The court found it "unnecessary" now that the guardian ad litem will be looking out for the 95-year-old mogul's interests. Samuel Ingham, who oversees Britney Spears' conservatorship, will be appointed "subject to his consent and availability." Judge Cowan makes clear he doesn't want a delay of trial unless it's absolutely necessary and "if [Ingham is] too busy, then we need to reconvene."
Trial is currently set to begin in January.