(New throughout, adds time for exam, details from ruling)
By Dan Levine and Lisa Richwine
Jan 22 Viacom Inc's 92-year-old
Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone should be examined by a
psychiatrist hired by the ex-girlfriend who has questioned his
mental competency, a California judge ruled on Friday.
The decision may provide investors with new information
about Redstone's capabilities. He controls Viacom and CBS Corp
, although his role at the companies has grown less
Viacom cut Redstone's pay 85 percent to $2 million last
year, the company said in a securities filing on Friday, citing
Geriatric psychiatrist Stephen Read will conduct the
court-ordered mental examination within the next 10 days, said
Pierce O'Donnell, an attorney for Redstone's former girlfriend
Redstone's attorneys have not indicated whether they will
appeal, a development that could affect the schedule. They have
argued that Herzer has filed the suit for financial gain.
Read may interview Redstone for up to an hour, Los Angeles
Superior Court Judge David Cowan said in his ruling. Redstone's
attorneys acknowledge he has a speech impairment, and Cowan
wrote that the executive's nurses and speech therapists may be
present during the exam.
Herzer and her attorneys cannot be present.
Herzer's lawsuit filed in November said that Redstone had
chosen her to make healthcare decisions for him in case he was
not able to. It claimed the billionaire was mentally incompetent
when he replaced her as his designated healthcare agent on Oct.
16 with Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman.
Read, in a declaration filed in November on behalf of
Herzer, said he believed Redstone lacked the mental capacity to
make that change. He cited testimony from Herzer and other
witnesses but he had not examined Redstone in person.
Redstone's primary physician, Dr. Richard Gold, told the
court Redstone was fully aware of what he was doing at the time.
Gold was deposed by Herzer's attorneys this month. The judge
said in his ruling called Gold's deposition testimony
"equivocal" and "inconsistent" with his declaration.
Gold, who visits Redstone two or three times a week, also
testified that "he could not understand Redstone half the time,"
Cowan wrote. The new exam can take place at either Redstone's
home or the doctor's office if Redstone prefers, Cowan said.
Redstone's advance healthcare directive makes Gold
responsible for gauging whether he can manage his own care,
court filings show. But the judge said Gold testified that he
did not know it was his responsibility. The judge said Gold also
testified that he had "no experience" making such decisions.
Gold said he believed Redstone could withstand a short
mental exam, Cowan said in the ruling.
Still, Cowan rejected a request by Herzer's lawyers to
depose Redstone. "We are gratified that the Court continues to
reject Ms. Herzer's increasingly desperate and disingenuous
attempts to depose Mr. Redstone," Gabrielle Vidal, an attorney
for Redstone, said in a statement.
Redstone's lawyers said Herzer is pursuing a "personal
financial agenda." They told the judge that at the same time
Herzer was removed as health care agent, Redstone had also
revoked a part of his estate plan which had left Herzer "a very
significant sum of money," according to the ruling.
Cowan said it was "at least conceivable" that Herzer might
care about Redstone's medical care even if she had a financial
Redstone "has not yet addressed the counter-intuitive notion
as to why someone would prefer to have a person across the
country care for one's medical needs in time of emergency,"
Cowan added. Dauman is based in New York, while Redstone lives
Lawyers for Redstone have filed a motion to dismiss the
case. A hearing on that motion was postponed until Feb. 29.
(Reporting by Dan Levine and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Richard
Chang and David Gregorio)