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Ex-Redstone Companion Seeks New Competency Trial

Sumner Redstone’s former live-in companion is seeking a new trial to show that the media mogul is not competent to make health care and legal decisions and that he is under the undue influence of his daughter Shari Redstone.

Redstone, controlling shareholder in Viacom and CBS, won a summary judgment in a previous suit brought by Manuela Herzer who last year was evicted from Redstone’s house, removed as a health-care decision maker and cut out of his will.

Since then, Redstone has moved to seize control of his media empire from long-time friends and colleagues including Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. Redstone has also taken steps to make it difficult for Viacom and Dauman to consummate its plan to sell a 49% stake in Paramount Picture.

Dauman sued Redstone in Massachusetts trying to get Redstone's moves annulled. 

In her filing in Superior Court of California, Herzer likens the Redstone saga to Shakespeare’s King Lear. She casts Sumner Redstone as the demented, ailing and easily fooled King Lear, Shari Redstone as conniving children Goneril and Regan and Herzer herself as Cordelia, who was wronged but truly loved and cared about the king.

Her legal arguments are that new evidence has surfaced showing Shari Redstone’s long-term scheme to take control over her father’s life and assets. The new evidence ranges from Redstone’s action removing Dauman as a director of the Redstone family holding company National Amusements to the guest list at Redstone’s 93rd birthday party, which included none of those at his previous celebration.

Herzer also claims that she was denied her right to trial when the judge cut the case short without seeing her evidence and hearing the testimony of her witnesses.

A new trial will reveal why Shari is King Lear’s calculating “thankless child” whose convenient reconciliation with her debilitated, defenseless father is a ruse to accomplish what her father had gone to elaborate ends to prevent—her seizure of his kingdom, Herzer’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell of Greenberg Glusker, said in a statement. “At the end of a new trial, we will urge Judge Cowan to grant the petition and prevent what happened to Lear where ‘machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves.’”

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.