UPDATED: Sumner Redstone has formally asked a Massachusetts judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman over his ouster last month as a board member of National Amusements and of the Redstone family trust.
In the filing Monday in Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, Redstone argues that there are only two ways to have him removed for mental incapacity from control of his family trust, neither of which has occurred: that is is judged incompetent by a court or that three doctors certify that he can’t competently manage his affairs.
The filing asserts that Dauman’s argument that he is being manipulated by his daughter Shari Redstone is “offensive and untrue.” The billionaire’s lawyers also argue that his trust does not even contain a clause allowing actions to be reversed because of undue influence. They say that, despite the removal of Redstone and another former Redstone advisor, George Abrams, there have been no significant changes in National Amusements’ holdings that would warrant the intervention of a court.
Besides the legal and factual objections, Redstone’s filing also urges the court to move the case to California where Redstone lives, rather than Massachusetts where the trust was incorporated in 2002. Redstone’s declaration says he hasn’t spent much time at all in Massachusetts during the past decade, most recently visiting in 2012. And it argues that the actions disputed in the court case, and most of the witnesses who would be called, all are native to California, making the courts there the logical ones to handle the dispute.
The furious tit-for-tat in the dispute continued later Monday, as representatives for Dauman responded with a statement accusing Shari Redstone and “lawyers hired for Sumner” with trying to “avoid a fair inquiry into Sumner’s well-being and how various documents came to be.” The Viacom CEO’s camp urged expedited discovery in the case “to allow the inquiry to proceed as quickly as possible.”
The Redstone filing includes a declaration from David Andelman, a longtime Redstone attorney who drafted the trust. Andelman backs up Redstone’s contention that he had every right to remove Dauman and George Abrams, another longtime Redstone confidant, from the trust.
It also includes a declaration from attorney Robert Klieger, who represented Sumner Redstone and advocated for his mental capacity in his earlier battle with former companion Manuela Herzer, who sought to reclaim her power over Redstone’s health care directive after she was removed by Shari Redstone last October. Klieger noted that, after the presentation of extensive evidence and arguments, a judge declined to take health care decisions out of Redstone’s hands and return them to Herzer, who had served as his health care agent.
Judge George Phelan has set June 30 for the next hearing in the case.