Viacom executive chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman slapped back at his former mentor, the media company’s controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, in a court filing Monday, claiming that a psychiatrist hired by the 93-year-old mogul has presented “distorted” and “one-sided” information regarding his overall competency.
Last week, psychiatrist Dr. James Spar said that he found Redstone to be able to make decisions, showing only a “mild degree” of age-related cognitive impairment after two examinations of the media mogul at his Beverly Hill residence on May 20 and May 24, according to reports. Dauman, whom Redstone is attempting to toss off Viacom’s board of directors along with several other members, has claimed that the Viacom chairman emeritus is being unduly influenced by his daughter, Viacom and National Amusements Inc. director Shari Redstone.
In the most recent filing, Dauman claims that Spar’s findings present “a one-sided, uncross-examined and distorted view of Mr. Redstone’s mental condition.”
Dauman also addressed some critics who have claimed that Redstone was found competent by a California court judge in April in his dismissal of a suit by Redstone’s former care giver Manuela Herzer.
The filing claims that the California court was only deciding the validity of Redstone healthcare directive – which ousted Herzer as his healthcare agent – and that it was “not making any ultimate findings related to Redstone’s mental capacity, one way or another, or whether he was unduly influenced in revoking the healthcare directive.”
Dauman also addressed critics who pointed to his own deposition in that case, which said Redstone was “engaged” and “attentive.” In the most recent filing, Dauman said that didn’t mean Redstone actually knew what was going on.
Dauman said in the filing those characteristics “could be attributed to a person who lacks the relevant capacity and who is supply unable fully to process information delivered to him no matter how engaged or attentive he is,” the filing stated. “In any event, Mr. Dauman’s affidavit was submitted more than six month ago. Six months is an eternity for a very sick man in his nineties.”
Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams filed suit in Massachusetts in May to block Redstone’s moves to remove them from the trust that will manage his holdings in the media company in the event of his death or incapacitation. They have asked for expedited discovery in the case, and a hearing is set for Tuesday.
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