Redstone Must Undergo Limited Mental Exam in Incapacity Suit

  • Judge again rebuffs request to question Redstone under oath
  • Former girlfriend can use exam to bolster incapacity claim

Sumner Redstone was ordered by a judge to undergo a one-hour mental examination amid mounting calls by investors for his removal as chairman of Viacom Inc. after his former girlfriend and caretaker alleged that he’s incapacitated.

A Los Angeles probate judge on Friday approved a short evaluation of Redstone, 92, by a geriatric psychiatrist and denied a request by lawyers representing the ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, to question the media billionaire under oath.

“A more informal conversation” between Redstone and a physician will be more productive than an adversarial deposition and will provide more useful testimony to determine whether Herzer’s case can proceed, Judge David Cowan said in a tentative decision ahead of Friday’s hearing.

“We are gratified that Judge Cowan struck an equitable balance that assures our client has a fair opportunity to prove that her beloved Sumner was not competent when the attorneys had him remove her as his health caregiver,” Herzer’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, said in a statement.

The case by Herzer has turned a public spotlight on the health of the man who controls CBS Corp. and Viacom and serves as chairman of both, and has led at least one major investor to demand details about his condition while other shareholders have called for him to resign or be removed.

Herzer, who was ordered out of Redstone’s house in October, was replaced as the agent on his advance health-care directive by longtime friend and Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman. Lawyers for Redstone have called Herzer’s petition a “farce” and said her true concern is her share of Redstone’s estate rather than his well-being.

“We are gratified that the court continues to reject Ms. Herzer’s increasingly desperate and disingenuous attempts to depose Mr. Redstone,” Gabrielle Vidal, Redstone’s lawyer, said in a statement.

The case is In re Advance Health Care Directive of Sumner M. Redstone, BP168725, Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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