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Judge Dismisses Manuela Herzer’s Racketeering Complaint

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a racketeering lawsuit filed against Viacom heir Shari Redstone by one of her father’s former companions.

Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled that plaintiff Manuela Herzer does not have standing to sue under federal RICO law. Herzer had accused Shari Redstone and her son, Tyler Korff, of conspiring to deprive Herzer of her rightful share of Sumner Redstone’s fortune, with whom Herzer had a longtime relationship. Herzer was evicted from Sumner Redstone’s home in 2015.

In his ruling, Gutierrez held that Herzer has no current legal interest in Redstone’s trust, as Redstone remains alive, and therefore she cannot sue.

“Plaintiff has not established that being removed from the Trust is an injury to business or property that confers RICO standing,” Gutierrez ruled.

Herzer also alleged that Shari Redstone and Korff worked with Sumner Redstone’s nurses to eavesdrop and record Herzer’s conversations while she was still living at the Redstone mansion. Herzer claims that Shari Redstone intended to use the information to damage Herzer’s reputation, which she alleged this violated federal wiretapping law.

Gutierrez dismissed that claim, finding no specific allegation that the recordings were used against Herzer.

“Plaintiff offers no specific factual allegations to establish that ‘interception’ occurred, nor that use or disclosure followed,” the judge held, though he granted Herzer an opportunity to refile that allegation with greater detail. Gutierrez also ruled that a defamation claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

Ronald Richards, Herzer’s attorney, called the ruling “a great win for Herzer overall.”

“The judge recognized that the direct wiretapping allegations could be plead and that they would survive a legal challenge,” Richards argued. “Tyler and Shari are still very much defendants and the case against them is long from over. The complaint will be amended and the comments the judge made will be addressed.”

Richards also said that the RICO issue “is ripe for review and clarification by the 9th Circuit.”

Herzer continues to fight with the Redstones on several fronts in state court. Another former mistress, Sydney Holland, recently settled a similar set of allegations.

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