Sumner Redstone, at war with Philippe Dauman, the CEO of Viacom, one of the media companies the 92-year-old mogul controls, has asked a California court to validate his decision to remove Dauman as a trustee of the trust that controls his assets.
On Monday morning Dauman and another Viacom director filed a suit in Massachusetts that called Redstone’s actions illegal and accused Redstone of lacking “the capacity to have taken these steps.”
Dauman has accused Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s daughter, of having undue influence over her father.
Shari Redstone and Dauman appear to be the main contenders to control Sumner Redstone’s assets when he dies or becomes incapacitated. Removing Dauman from the trust would weaken his ability to control Viacom or Redstone’s other assets including CBS.
Redstone previously won a lawsuit challenging his competency to make health care decisions.
“Mr. Redstone has been clear and unequivocal in his desire to remove Philippe Dauman and George Abrams as trustees,” said Robert Klieger, one of Sumner Redstone’s attorneys. “Mr. Redstone is saddened that Mr. Dauman is trying to make this dispute about his daughter. This dispute is not about Shari Redstone. It is about Mr. Redstone’s right to have the individuals he wants and trusts managing his assets upon his death, and protecting the financial interests of his grandchildren.”
According to a press release announcing Sumner Redstone’s petition to the court, “it is telling that Mr. Dauman is raising the question of mental capacity for the first time after he’s been removed when, just months ago in court documents, he pronounced Mr. Redstone ‘engaged, attentive, and as opinionated as ever.’”
The petition maintains that Redstone has a right to add and remove trustees, unless he is incapacitated, which hasn’t happened.