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Judge Orders Psychiatric Evaluation of Aging Media Mogul

Media mogul Sumner Redstone has been ordered to sit for a one-hour psychiatric evaluation as part of an ongoing court battle with an ex-girlfriend, a Los Angeles judge has ruled. The New York Daily News says the judge’s order may not only affect Redstone’s estate but his business dealings.

The article, “Sumner Redstone, media mogul, ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation,” describes the battle over the care and assets of the “once-towering tycoon,” who at 92 is still the executive chairman of media giants Viacom and CBS, even though he is all but confined to his Beverly Park mansion. A new shareholder lawsuit recently filed claims that corporate executives withheld the level of Redstone’s deterioration and failed to implement a succession plan.

Judge David Cowan denied a request by ex-girlfriend Herzer to depose Redstone, but he did grant her application for an exam by a geriatric psychiatrist. This was her third attempt to get the judge’s approval for an evaluation. The judge finally agreed to go ahead after learning that one of the doctors chosen by Redstone’s handlers to attest to his overall acuity was not a psychiatrist and gave deposition testimony that was “inconsistent” with a prior declaration.

The judge said Dr. Stephen Read should conduct his one-hour interview with Redstone without Herzer or any attorneys. Also, the exam won’t be recorded and is to include only those nurses or speech therapists who regularly assist Redstone with his “serious speech impediment,” the judge said.

“The court is confident that a more informal conversation between a doctor and patient, with an experienced and well respected physician such as Dr. Read, will be far more productive than an adversarial deposition with attorneys and a court reporter and ultimately provide more useful testimony,” Judge Cowan wrote in his ruling.

The judge ruled that Herzer “should be entitled to have at least some access to the person about whom this case is concerned.”

Herzer was kicked out of Redstone’s mansion last fall. She says the ailing billionaire acted without a full understanding and against his best interests. She also was removed as the lead agent on his Advance Health Care Directive a short time later and replaced with Viacom’s President and CEO. Herzer sued in November to return to Redstone’s inner circle and resume control of his future medical care.

Herzer’s prior two attempts to get a judge’s approval for a mental evaluation were denied. She called Redstone a “living ghost” in her lawsuit, who started on a dramatic decline in health when he discovered last summer that his young lover had been unfaithful during their five-year relationship. Herzer alleges that Redstone can’t converse, except for brief grunted responses to questions and, even then, is nearly impossible to understand.

Herzer’s outside doctor will conduct the evaluation of Redstone, and a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case will take place on February 29, Leap Day.

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