UPDATED: Keryn Redstone is asking to review a recent settlement agreement that resulted in the ouster of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and the installation of new leadership atop the media conglomerate behind VH1, MTV and Paramount Pictures.
In legal filings, Redstone, who is the granddaughter of Viacom’s controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, questions why Dauman has abandoned a series of legal challenges in favor of a golden parachute that will pay him in excess of $70 million to leave his perch. The deal could end a series of interconnected courtroom battles.
On Monday afternoon, the Massachusetts judge overseeing one of the lawsuits sparked by the Dauman vs. Sumner Redstone battle agreed to hear the motion filed by Keryn Redstone’s attorneys. Judge George Phelan of Massachusetts Probate Court will hear the argument on Friday when he may also decide whether Sumner Redstone has to undergo a mental competency test.
Dauman had previously allied himself with Frederic Salerno and George Abrams, members of the boards of Viacom and National Amusements, the holding company that manages the Redstone stake, after the men were tossed out in a leadership shuffle. They had claimed that the move was being orchestrated by Keryn Redstone’s aunt, Shari Redstone, in an attempt to gain control of Sumner Redstone’s media empire.
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“Now, in the blink of an eye, Plaintiffs have apparently turned tail, agreed to acquiesce to Shari’s palace coup, and suddenly seek to ‘go gentle into that good night’ with their pockets full of nearly $100 million,” reads the motion.
Beyond quoting Dylan Thomas, the filing goes on to ask, “why Plaintiffs have joined hands with Shari and are singing Kumbaya.”
Because Viacom is a publicly traded company, it will have to release settlement details, but Keryn Redstone’s legal team is asking to review the particulars as soon as possible.
Ira Steinberg, an attorney for Keryn Redstone, wrote in an email that this client was preparing to go to trial, “where which she will make her case that the tragically incapacitated Sumner Redstone has been unduly influenced by Shari Redstone in modifying the succession plan for his businesses.”
Over the weekend, Viacom announced that Dauman will be replaced on an interim basis by Chief Operating Officer Thomas Dooley. Dauman will also be given the opportunity to try to persuade the Viacom board to move ahead with his plan to sell a 49% stake in Paramount.
The 93-year-old Sumner Redstone’s health has been failing in recent years. The settlement with Dauman will likely bring an end to the legal effort to have the mogul undergo mental and medical capacity tests.
A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment on Keryn Redstone’s filing.