A case claiming that Sumner Redstone, the 92-year-old media mogul who controls Viacom and CBS, is incompetent to make health care and financial decisions was dismissed Monday by a judge in Los Angeles.
“I am grateful to the court for putting an end to this long ordeal. I am so happy for my father that he can now live his life in peace, surrounded by his friends and family,” said Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone.
The decision puts less pressure on trustees for Redstone to change how decisions are made at the media companies. Lately CBS has been thriving but Viacom’s earnings have been down with its stock at record lows.
The suit was brought by Redstone’s former live-in companion, Manuela Herzer, who had been designated as Redstone’s agent for health-care decisions in the event he could no longer make them.
Last year Herzer was kicked out of Redstone’s house, replaced as health care agent and cut out of Redstone’s will.
"We are disappointed. . We will appeal and seek to have the case expedited," said Herzer's lawyer PIerce O'Donnell. He said Herzer also planned to file a $210 million damages suit against Shari Redstone and seven nurses on Sumner Redstone's nursing staff.
Redstone gave videotaped testimony about his wishes, and Judge David Cowan found the testimony compelling.
“Redstone’s testimony has ultimately defeated her case,” the judge said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Mr. Redstone is grateful that the Court dismissed this case and honored his stated wish to keep Manuel Herzer out of his life and healthcare decisions. Mr. Redstone looks forward to spending time with his loved ones in peace," said one of his lawyers, Gabrielle Vidal of Loeb & Loeb.
And Herzer may be facing legal problems of her own.
"Ms. Herzer bet wrong when she assumed that Mr. Redstone’s difficulty communicating would result in her reinstatement in his life and fortune. Mr. Redstone is looking forward to liberating the $150 mllion in ‘gifts' to Ms. Herzer and her friend," said another Redstone lawyer, Robert N. Klieger of Hueston Hennigan LLP:
Earlier this year, Redstone resigned under pressure as executive chairman of Viacom and CBS.
The decision might put off a clash between Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and hter Shari Redstone for control of the media empire.