Redstone dispute continues

I recently wrote a comment on the Sumner Redstone dispute which can be found here. Sumner Redstone (born May 27, 1923) is an American billionaire and media magnate. Some of the assets owned and/or controlled by him or his family include the National Amusements theater chain, CBS corporation, and Viacom. According to Forbes, he is worth approximately $6.2 billion. The Redstone estate is vast in addition to having many assets.

At the time I wrote my previous story some of the issues of the case involved allegations by Ms. Manuela Herzer that she was appointed by Mr. Redstone under a September 3, 2015 health directive to make decisions for him if he lost capacity. Ms. Herzer was allegedly an ex-girlfriend. Mr. Redstone’s position was that Ms. Herzer was upset that he kicked her out of his home on October 12, 2015, not even two months after she moved in. He was also of the view that Ms. Herzer was concerned about being removed from his will. Consequently, the dispute appeared to be setting the stage for a future will challenge.

A judge dismissed that case in California.

New allegations of undue influence and lack of capacity

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal found here outlines the latest developments in the Redstone dispute. It appears that the issue of capacity may become especially relevant to the decision-making process of Mr. Redstone in controlling his companies. Specifically, there appear to be questions as to whether or not he knew what he was doing when he recently reorganised the power structure of his business. Another issue is whether or not he was unduly influenced by his daughter Ms. Shari Redstone.

Mr. Philippe Dauman and Mr. George Abrams initiated the new lawsuit in Massachusetts. They were allegedly ousted from the board of a holding company, National Amusements Inc., as a result of Mr. Redstone’s reorganisation. Their position is that he would have never had them removed if he were in control of his affairs. They also seem to allege that Mr. Redstone is being influenced by a third party in addition to suffering from a worsening brain disorder.

Mr. Redstone’s position appears to be that he has capacity and he knows what he is doing. A key issue will likely be whether or not an independent examination of Mr. Redstone will be allowed by the Court.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Redstone is 93 years old and it seems like some of the parties involved are questioning whether at his age he has the capacity to make complex business decisions involving multi-billion dollar companies.

As life expectancy climbs, capacity disputes are increasing in frequency. Just because Mr. Redstone is 93 years old, that does not mean that he lacks capacity to make complex business decisions. Nonetheless, if there are reasons to suspect a third party is unduly influencing someone like Mr. Redstone, it is appropriate to take the necessary legal steps.

More on this story here.