Sumner Redstone Mental Status ‘Severely Compromised,’ Mogul Suffers From Dementia, Doctor Tells Court

Sumner Redstone
John Shearer/Invision/AP

In a blow to Manuela Herzer’s case, Judge David Cowan indicated that he would give great weight to the wishes expressed by Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone as to his health care.

Cowan reviewed Redstone’s testimony Friday morning, while the courtroom was closed. Herzer is seeking to invalidate her removal as Redstone’s health care agent. Redstone testified that he does not want Herzer to be responsible for his care.

“He’s come in here at your request and told me what he wants,” Cowan told Pierce O’Donnell, Herzer’s attorney. “Your burden is a hard one.”

O’Donnell acknowledged Cowan’s skepticism.

“I’ve climbed mountains before,” he told the judge. “I don’t know if I can climb this mountain.”

O’Donnell then called his first witness, Dr. Stephen Read, a geriatric psychiatrist who examined Redstone on behalf of Herzer’s legal team on Jan. 29.

Read testified that Redstone’s mental status was “severely compromised.”

“It was a very sad event. … Mr. Redstone was a phenomenal figure in his day,” Read testified. “The Mr. Redstone we have today is a very, very thin shadow of what he was.”

Read testified that in his opinion, Redstone suffers from moderate dementia. During the examination, Redstone struggled to identify shapes and colors. He also exhibited language problems and other symptoms of brain damage, Read testified. Read added that Redstone was subject to uncontrollable anger, which impaired his reasoning. He said he had also read that the mogul sometimes had fits of “convulsive crying.”

In the examination, Redstone was able to give the names of his great-grandchildren. But he could not do simple arithmetic. He also could not spell the word “world” backwards.

“Mr. Redstone was able to start with ‘D,’ but was unable to do the other letters, and in fact reverted to doing them forward,” Read testified.

Read also said that one of Redstone’s primary activities is betting on sports games.

“He typically does not know who is playing,” Read said. “The bets are arranged so Mr. Redstone always wins. The games are pre-recorded and Mr. Redstone is persuaded to bet on the winning team. … He has an almost unblemished record of betting.”

Read said that Redstone has been unable to figure out the ruse.