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Sumner Redstone Will Not Be Deposed in Suit Against Ex-Companions

A judge ruled Friday that Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone will not have to face a deposition in his ongoing legal battle with two ex-companions.

Attorneys for the 93-year-old Redstone argued that he is in extremely frail health, and can barely communicate beyond simple “yes” or “no” replies. Redstone is suing Manuela Herzer and Sydney Holland, alleging that the two women had duped him into giving them $150 million in gifts. Redstone had been close to both women for several years, but had a falling out with them in the fall of 2015.

Judge Robert Hess agreed that it would be “inadvisable” to allow attorneys for Holland and Herzer to question Redstone. The judge also ordered Redstone’s attorneys to decide by June 21 whether he will testify in the lawsuit.

Herzer’s attorney, Ronald Richards, argued that Redstone is so incapacitated that he may not be directing the lawsuit. Redstone’s attorney, Richard Klieger, countered that Redstone is fully aware of and participating in the case.

Herzer is also suing Redstone’s daughter Shari, alleging that she conspired with Redstone’s nurses to deprive Herzer of an additional $70 million inheritance.

On Friday, Judge Hess threw out that lawsuit, arguing that it should have been filed in probate court. Richards argued that the probate court would not be the appropriate venue unless Redstone were dead or declared incapacitated.

Outside court, Richards said he would file a probate action and refile the civil complaint alleging that Shari Redstone invaded Herzer’s privacy.

Though Redstone remains the controlling owner of Viacom and CBS, he has stepped down as chairman of the company in 2016. Shari Redstone now serves as vice chair of the boards of both companies.

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