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Judge Moves Sumner Redstone Competency Trial Forward

Rulings over former Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone's (L) health directives will go to trial.  (Thinkstock: Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
Rulings over former Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone’s (L) health directives will go to trial. (Thinkstock: Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

A former companion of ailing media mogul Sumner M. Redstone, who wants to regain authority to make medical decisions on his behalf, won a round in court Monday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan denied a motion by Redstone’s lawyers to dismiss Manuela Herzer’s petition.

Herzer, 51, is a former love interest of the 92-year-old Redstone, who ordered her out of his home in October.

Pierce O’Donnell, Herzer’s attorney, said his client should be allowed to resume making Redstone’s health decisions as she did before she was evicted.

He maintains that Redstone, the former board chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, is “tragically incapacitated.”

O’Donnell noted that in Cowan’s ruling, the judge cited the findings of Dr. Stephen Read, a psychiatrist who supported Herzer’s contention that Redstone lacked the mental capacity to make the change in his heath-care directive that removed Herzer.

“Suffice it to say, though not conclusive as to capacity, that those details are difficult to read in describing how this man is hanging on to life,” Cowan wrote in the 21-page ruling.

Cowan also wrote that Redstone’s personal physician maintains his patient does have the mental capacity to make such decisions on his own behalf.

“It will therefore be the court’s primary task at trial to determine which of these physicians most accurately states Redstone’s mental status,” Cowan wrote.

Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, who was in court today, maintains that Herzer is upset that on the same day her father took away Herzer’s health- care directive, he also revoked a “very significant gift” to her, according to the judge’s ruling.

But the judge also penned that Herzer maintains that independent of any financial interests, she has cared about her former flame’s health for many years “without any help from Redstone’s family.”

O’Donnell contends Redstone was “brainwashed” by those around him and is “marooned and a prisoner in his own home in Beverly Park.”

Redstone’s lawyer, Gabrielle A. Vidal, told Cowan that the media mogul wants Herzer out of his life.

“Mr. Redstone does not want to see Ms. Herzer in his house,” Vidal said.

But Cowan said he has to follow the law and that sometimes “things get complicated.” The judge set five days for trial beginning May 6.

Redstone’s current health care advocate is Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

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