Massachusetts Court Taking Redstone Case, Mogul Won’t Undergo Immediate Mental Exam

Sumner Redstone
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Sumner Redstone doesn’t need to undergo an immediate mental examination, a Massachusetts judge ruled on Wednesday, denying Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s request for one.

Dauman’s case still made great strides though as probate judge George Phelan allowed the embattled media CEO to move forward in his lawsuit contesting his removal from the seven-member National Amusements Trust. He will also grant Dauman’s legal team access to Redstone’s medical records, extending back through 2015.

The Massachusetts court will hear the case instead of allowing it to move to another jurisdiction. Attorneys for Redstone had been pushing to have the case adjudicated in California, where the media mogul resides. Judge Phelan writes that he wants a speedy resolution to the case with a trial to take place in October.

National Amusements, is a Massachusetts-based holding company, through which the Redstone family controls 80% of the voting shares in Viacom and CBS. As the 93-year old Redstone’s health has faltered, his media empire has become engulfed in a series of legal feuds. Shari Redstone, Sumner’s daughter, has been locked in a battle for control of Viacom with Dauman. Viacom’s properties include MTV, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeonand Comedy Central.

Attorneys for Dauman have argued that Redstone is not mentally competent to be making decisions and is being manipulated by his daughter.

Dauman has been pushing forward in his efforts to sell a minority stake in Paramount Pictures, a move that Sumner Redstone’s camp says the mogul opposes.

Attorneys for Dauman and his fellow claimant George Abrams said they were pleased that Judge Phelan acknowledged the “seriousness” of the charges.

“We are grateful that Judge Phelan’s thoughtful opinion removes yet another of the defendants’ efforts to block an investigation into the merits and, in particular, an independent determination of Mr. Redstone’s capacity and the question of undue influence,” the statement reads.

In a competing statement, Mike Lawrence, a spokesman for Redstone, argued that Dauman and Abrams should honor the mogul’s decision to oust them from the board.

“This case is a disingenuous, self-interested effort by Philippe Dauman and George Abrams to hold on to their power as trustees and National Amusements directors, in the hope that this would enable them to preserve their richly compensated positions at Viacom despite their dismal performance,” said Lawrence.

The ruling comes a day before a hearing in Delaware’s Chancery Court on National Amusements’ move to overhaul the Viacom board, replacing five members, including Dauman.