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Mental Capacity: A Double-Edged Sword (Cont.)

In early June, we published an article outlining the legal case of Mr. Redstone, age 93, who owns about 80 percent of CBS and Viacom-reportedly a $40 billion media empire. In that article, we described how mental capacity claims can be a double-edged sword, with contradicting claims being made by his business partner, Mr. Dauman, just months after he was removed as a trustee at the “urging” of Mr. Redstone’s daughter.

The New Elder Abuse Lawsuit

The story has progressed, with Redstone filing an elder abuse lawsuit against Manuela Herzer and Sydney Holland, two “companions,” seeking to reclaim $150 million in gifts he had given them.

This Suit Claims

  • The women took advantage of the aging Redstone to influence him and take over his life and finances.
  • They fired his doctors, nurses, and household staff and isolated him from his family, telling the mogul that his daughter and grandchildren hated them and instructing security not to allow them near his Beverly Park mansion.
  • Redstone requires help from his nursing staff to move throughout his home, and uses an iPad programmed with his voice to communicate.
  • In 2014 alone, Herzer and Holland racked up a $3.5 million tab on Redstone’s credit cards.
  • Holland and Herzer had a plan to gain access to $200 million invested in Viacom and CBS stock options, restricted stock units, and performance stock units.
  • Redstone’s estate attorney wouldn’t change his plan to put Herzer and Holland in control, so they brought in a new lawyer who insisted that a geriatric psychiatrist evaluate Redstone to assess his competence.
  • Redstone’s companions spent hours coaching him prior to the meeting with the geriatric psychiatrist.
  • The amended estate plan was completed in June 2014, putting the women in control.

After Redstone was hospitalized that fall, his daughter Shari was concerned about her father’s well-being and met with one of his home nurses, Joseph Octaviano. He informed her of the emotional abuse he had witnessed at the hands of Herzer and Holland while Mr. Redstone was in his care. He agreed to keep her informed of what was happening within the house – spurring a $100 million “spying” lawsuit by Herzer.

The Case

Redstone is suing for elder abuse, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and at least $150 million in damages.

Herzer’s attorney, Ronald Richards, says Redstone has given numerous other women millions in gifts and property over the years and this lawsuit is nothing more than Shari Redstone continuing to manipulate her father.

The Concern

In cases involving mental capacity, it’s often difficult to discern the truth. Even if Mr. Redstone receives additional geriatric psychiatry examinations, it may never be clear whether Herzer and Holland were taking advantage of Mr. Redstone or if he gave the gifts willing.

Loren Barr
by Loren Barr
Updated: April 28, 2021

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