Sumner Redstone's former companion, Manuela Herzer, is renewing her legal effort to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent, comparing the ailing 93-year-old billionaire media mogul to the bumbling "King Lear" in the William Shakespeare tragedy.
"The comparison of waning Sumner Redstone to demented King Lear is apt," Herzer's lead attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, wrote in a motion filed late Monday. The filing demands a new trial to determine whether Redstone is in command of his faculties – or whether he has been operating under the undue influence of his daughter.
The move comes a little more than a month after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan dismissed Herzer's lawsuit after just one day of testimony in a trial that was expected to unfold over more than a week.
Cowan stopped short of determining that Redstone was competent, but instead the judge said that it was clear the mogul wanted Herzer, his former companion, out of his life.
But Herzer's legal team is taking another stab.
"There is newly discovered evidence supporting [Herzer's] claim that Shari Redstone had a two-year scheme to oust Manuela from Sumner's life so that Shari could seize control of her father and manipulate him to authorize what he vehemently vowed never to do — give Shari control of Viacom, Inc. and CBS," O'Donnell said Monday night in a statement.
The saga, he said, reads like Shakespeare.
"Mentally incapacitated Redstone is a demented Lear," O'Donnell wrote in the filing. "Ailing and easily fooled, King Lear, unable to discern false flattery from the truth, is duped into surrendering his power, land, and fortune to his two conniving daughters who ruthlessly implement their scheme to eliminate all opposition."
Shari Redstone, O'Donnell said, appears to be a combination of the two daughters in the play, Goneril and Regan.
Nancy Sterling, a representative of Shari Redstone, said: "It's not worth commenting on."
Herzer has been arguing that she was wrongly removed in mid-October from a position of power overseeing Redstone's healthcare and his daily activities at his sprawling mansion in Beverly Park. Herzer contends that she was ousted as part of a campaign orchestrated by Shari Redstone, the mogul's daughter, to eliminate those who surrounded her father, including her longtime associate, Philippe Dauman, the chairman and chief executive of Viacom.
Herzer's case shined a harsh light on the family infighting and corporate intrigue among Redstone's tight circle, and threw open the door for the current pitched battle for control of the two companies that the Redstone family controls, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.
In a deposition in early May, Sumner Redstone used obscenities to describe Herzer. Redstone, who struggles to speak, also said he wanted Shari Redstone, his once estranged daughter, to be in charge of his healthcare.
Two weeks after Cowan's decision, Redstone took action to remove Dauman and another long-time advisor, George Abrams, from the trust that will eventually oversee Redstone's controlling stakes in the two media companies. The mogul also removed Dauman and Abrams from the board of the family investment vehicle, National Amusements, that holds the controlling shares of Viacom and CBS.
Dauman and Abrams filed suit in a Massachusetts court in late May, asking a judge there to block their removal from the trust and National Amusements.
In Monday's motion for a new trial, Herzer's attorneys said the abrupt end to the trial in Los Angeles "after only one day constituted a prejudicial denial of [Herzer's] unconditional right to testify and present all of the evidence in her case."