Judge David J. Cowan says right to privacy overrules media desire to scrutinize judicial proceedings
A judge has ruled that Sumner Redstone’s medical records will remain sealed in the court battle over the media mogul’s care.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan said that the 92-year-old billionaire is not on trial, therefore his private medical records are to remain private.
Various media outlets filed requests to unseal documents in the case, as they could impact the futures of Viacom and CBS, both companies of which Redstone was previously executive chairman. However, Cowan said this case has nothing to do with Redstone’s business decisions and instead focuses on his health.
Cowan did state that some documents will be unsealed, including a letter from Redstone to his daughter Shari as well as emails from Redstone’s nursing staff and attorney.
Cowan tempered his ruling by saying that just because he is sealing the records now, that does not mean they will remain private once the trial officially begins.
Manuela Herzer, Redstone’s former caretaker and companion, filed suit in November after being removed from Redstone’s will and ousted as his healthcare proxy. Herzer is seeking to be reinstated as the steward of Redstone’s care should he become incapacitated. Her suit characterizes Redstone as a “living ghost” who is unable to follow conversations and sign his own name.
Herzer’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, issued a statement to TheWrap regarding today’s ruling.
“In his ruling today, Judge Cowan has made it abundantly clear that the trial proceedings will be open to the public and media and all the evidence will likewise will be available to the public and media,” O’Donnell said. “Then it will become apparent to all that Sumner Redstone is a tragic victim preyed upon by those in positions of trust and confidence who are supposed to protect him. We eagerly await trial.”
Redstone’s lawyers reject the claims, saying she is trying to insinuate herself into his estate after she was removed in October. Phillipe Dauman took over the role as Redstone’s so-called healthcare agent shortly after.
In February, Viacom named CEO Dauman chairman at an emergency board meeting, with Redstone stepping down to an emeritus position. Likewise, CBS CEO Les Moonves was named chairman of that company in February.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.