- Manuela Herzer's lawsuit called invasion of privacy by lawyer
- Friend of 20 years claims to have been thrown out of home
Sumner Redstone denied a one-time girlfriend’s claim that he’s incapacitated in a battle over the 92-year-old media billionaire’s empire, which includes his control of Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.
Manuela Herzer claimed in a lawsuit that the chairman of CBS and Viacom has become incompetent and unable to handle any decisions related to his health care, finances or anything else, drawing a swift rebuke from Redstone’s lawyer.
“Ms. Herzer’s claim that she filed this lawsuit out of concern for Mr. Redstone is preposterous,” Gabrielle Vidal said in a statement. “It is a meritless action, riddled with lies, and a despicable invasion of his privacy. It proves only that Ms. Herzer will stop at nothing to pursue her personal financial agenda.”
In an October letter to Redstone’s attorneys, Herzer’s lawyer Carol A. Johnston claimed Redstone may have been “the victim of undue influence” when he kicked Herzer, a long-time friend, out of his home.
The letter, along with his rebuttal, was provided by a spokeswoman for Redstone.
"Manuela Herzer is genuinely concerned about Sumner’s health,” Pierce O’Donnell, her lawyer, said in a phone interview. “She’s the person he selected to be with the rest of his life and to make critical decisions about his health."
Claims by Redstone’s lawyers that she’s only concerned about the inheritance are “demonstrably false,” he said.
According to court filings, Redstone ordered Herzer out of his home on Oct. 12, two months after she had moved in, according to Redstone’s filing. Under a Sept. 3 advance health care directive, Herzer was given authority to make decisions for Redstone if he weren’t able to do so himself any longer.
Herzer, who’s been Redstone’s friend for almost 20 years, was "blindsided" when she was told to leave his home without being allowed to talk to him, according to Johnston’s Oct. 13 letter. She seeks a court ruling that Redstone lacked capacity to revoke the advance health care directive.
Redstone appeared to be manipulated to turn him against Herzer, according to Johnston’s letter. It has all the indications of "undue influence, fraud and duress," the lawyer said.
The billionaire has two adult children and five adult grandchildren. Redstone met Herzer in 1999 and they dated for about two years, according to her filing. They stayed friends after he married his second wife, Paula Fortunato, in 2002, she said.
Redstone’s lawyers said in his rebuttal that Herzer’s petition is a "farce" and that she’s merely concerned about being removed from his will.
"If Ms. Herzer wants to challenge Mr. Redstone’s estate plan, the very least she could do is wait until he dies," according to the filing.
The filings weren’t immediately available from Los Angeles Superior Court.
The case is In re Advance Health Care Directive of Sumner M. Redstone, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.