February 26, 2016 / 4:38 PM / 2 years ago

Sumner Redstone's lawyers say competency lawsuit illogical, in run-up to hearing

Security personnel stand outside the Viacom Inc. headquarters in New York April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) - Sumner Redstone’s attorneys reiterated a request for a California court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the media mogul’s mental competency on Friday, describing the suit’s case as “factual spaghetti thrown at a wall.”

The latest arguments, submitted to a Los Angeles state court, come in the run-up to a crucial hearing on Monday where a judge will consider whether to throw out the lawsuit filed by Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer.

Herzer argues that the 92-year old Redstone chose her to be his health care agent last September, and was not competent when he removed her the following month in favor of Viacom Inc chief executive Philippe Dauman. Her lawsuit, filed in November, portrayed Redstone a “living ghost” who could not make his own decisions.

But Redstone’s lawyers argue that the media mogul’s condition was no different in October than it was in September. While he has trouble speaking, they said, he is mentally fit.

They also suggest a financial motive behind the case. Not only did Redstone remove Herzer as health care agent, but he also stripped about $70 million she was due to inherit, according to court filings.

“Ms. Herzer puts herself first in this proceeding,” they wrote. Herzer has said she cares only about Redstone’s well-being, not money.

Viacom, and to a lesser extent CBS Corp, have come under scrutiny because of Redstone’s declining health, which was highlighted by Herzer’s lawsuit. Redstone gave up his roles as executive chairman of Viacom and CBS earlier this month. He still controls about 80 percent of the voting shares in both companies.

A New York judge on Thursday refused to shield Dauman from giving a deposition in Herzer’s case.

In court filings last week Herzer reiterated conclusions from a geriatric psychiatrist she hired, who found that the media mogul lacked mental capacity.

Several portions of Redstone’s filing on Friday were redacted from public view, though he argued that the only opinion which matters under the law is that of his own primary care physician.

Redstone’s personal physician, Richard Gold, and a geriatric psychiatrist he hired, have told the court they believe the mogul was competent to remove Herzer.

Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Bill Rigby

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