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Viacom Chief Philippe Dauman is ordered to testify in Sumner Redstone competency case

A New York judge has ordered Viacom Chairman and Chief Executive Philippe Dauman to give a deposition in the ongoing dispute over whether media mogul Sumner Redstone is mentally competent.

Dauman had been trying to avoid providing testimony by arguing that he was not central to the contentious dispute between Redstone and his former companion Manuela Herzer.

Redstone, 92, is the controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS Corp. Earlier this month, the ailing mogul relinquished his title of executive chairman of the two media companies.

On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Freed ruled that Dauman would have to provide testimony. Dauman was designated as the agent in charge of Redstone's advance healthcare directive, replacing Herzer, on Oct. 16.

The judge said that Dauman's testimony could be shielded from public view, and that Herzer's lawyers' questions should focus on Redstone's healthcare and his mental capacity -- not Viacom corporate business, according to a person who attended the court hearing in New York.

Herzer's attorneys have been trying to wrangle a deposition from Dauman since a hearing in Los Angeles on Dec. 21.

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"We are thrilled about this significant positive development as we continue to gather more and more incriminating evidence that Mr. Redstone is the victim of severe mental and emotional abuse, fraud, and manipulation by those close to him in positions of trust and confidence," Herzer's attorney in Los Angeles, Pierce O'Donnell, said in a statement.

The deposition is expected to delve into conversations Dauman said he had with Redstone during visits to Los Angeles on Oct. 8 and Nov. 3. Dauman lives in New York, while Redstone lives in the Beverly Park section of Los Angeles.

On Monday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan will hear arguments in the high-profile case. Redstone's attorneys have asked Cowan to dismiss Herzer's petition that seeks to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent.

Redstone's attorneys say the mogul continues to make decisions about his own healthcare.

Herzer's attorneys plan to ask for a trial to be held next month. They have been busy taking depositions of Redstone's nursing staff and doctors who have examined Redstone.

The New York judge said that Dauman's deposition should occur in the next 30 days.

"Mr. Dauman is pleased to cooperate and fully prepared to comply with the request for appropriate and legally relevant information in the California proceeding," Les Fagen, a senior partner with law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, said in a statement after the hearing.

meg.james@latimes.com

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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