Manuela Herzer already lost a court decision Monday in her attempt to re-insert herself in Sumner Redstone’s life. But scrutiny of the former girlfriend is far from over — as lawyers said they are preparing to sue her and another ex in an attempt to recover $150 million in cash and gifts they say media magnate showered on the two women.
Redstone’s lawyers said they plan to file a lawsuit within the next two weeks accusing Herzer and Sydney Holland of elder abuse. The complaint will accuse the women of isolating the chairman emeritus of Viacom and CBS from his friends and family, then coercing him into giving them wads of cash and other assets over the course of five years.
The threatened ligitation came in the aftermath of Judge David J. Cowan’s ruling Monday morning against Herzer. The Los Angeles judge said that he would not reinstate Herzer as Redstone’s health care agent, because the 92-year-old clearly did not want his ex-girlfriend in his home or in his life.
Herzer’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, called the threatened lawsuit “laughable,” adding: “His two attorneys and a leading psychiatrist blessed these gifts as the result of Sumner’s sound mind and free will. This is obviously a desperate act.”
Herzer, 52, has already filed a lawsuit of her own, demanding $70 million that she believes she is entitled to receive because she said she was improperly removed from the Redstone’s estate plan. That document once called for Herzer to receive $50 million and a $20 million home. But Redstone, 92, reportedly learned that the live-in was taking his money and lying to him to keep him away from other women he wanted to keep in his life. After learning of those alleged betrayals, he threw over Herzer, whom he had known for 17 years.
One nurse from Redstone’s Beverly Park mansion testified briefly Friday that he hated Herzer and reported his concerns to the magnate’s daughter, Shari Redstone. He acknowledged he talked to others about his concerns, claiming in one email that “99% of the staff is willing to testify about the brutality of Manuela and Sydney.”
Herzer’s lawyers say it is the household staff and other Redstone aides that betrayed him. They compared those people to a “spy ring” that improperly reported to Shari Redstone on Redstone and the two women who long oversaw his care.
But nurse Joseph Octaviano defended his actions, saying that he was justified in reporting to Shari because he believed the nonagenarian was being abused.
Attorney Robert Klieger, who helped represent Redstone in the just-completed competency case, said he will lead the upcoming lawsuit to recover funds from Herzer and Holland.
“What I expect you will see alleged in the suit we are preparing is that Sumner Redstone was manipulated into selling large portions of his stock holdings in Viacom and CBS,” Klieger said, “and the proceeds of those sales went into the purses of Ms. Holland and Ms. Herzer.” The lawyer charged that the two women threatened to abandon Redstone if he did not do their bidding.
Holland was not present during the Herzer lawsuit, but both she and Herzer have previously said that Redstone’s gifts to them were all voluntary and that the billionaire had a history of generosity, particularly to women who were his romantic interests.