Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman wants to expedite the fight over his removal from Sumner Redstone’s family trust — because he says the 93-year-old may soon die or become too ill to testify in the case.
Dauman and Viacom director George S. Abrams, both of whom were removed from the trust in a power struggle over who should control Redstone’s affairs, stepped up the legal challenge to the aging mogul’s moves.
On Monday, the two filed a new legal motion demanding an “immediate medical evaluation of Sumner Redstone,” even as they offered their own grim assessment of his situation.
Here’s an excerpt from the motion:
We respectfully submit that time is of the essence. In the absence of prompt proceedings, there is grave risk that Sumner Redstone will not be available to provide any evidence in this case. He is a 93 year old man suffering from overwhelming physical ailments, including an inability to to speak, stand, walk, eat, write or read. He suffers from a progressive neurological disease characterized by dementia. Mr. Redstone has been reportedly hospitalized within the last few weeks. Under these circumstances, there is an obvious need to proceed with speed.
Among those who may disagree with that assessment? Sumner Redstone, who has said many times that he is never going to die.
His lawyers said last week that his competency or possible lack thereof was not relevant, because four of seven trustees have affirmed the decision last month to remove Dauman and Abrams.
In a statement released Friday by Redstone family representatives, Dr. James Spar of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said that Redstone affirmed his recent decision to oust Dauman and Abrams from his trust and the Board of Directors of National Amusements, Inc., the privately held firm that holds a controlling stake in both CBS and Viacom.
Spar wrote that Redstone appeared “well dressed and groomed, alert and in no distress, and quite cooperative with the examination.”
A Massachusetts judge has granted a hearing Tuesday to review Redstone’s mental capacity.
Though the decision to boot Dauman and Abrams ostensibly came from Sumner Redstone, their attorneys contend that it was Redstone’s daughter Shari who pulled the strings to have them removed.
Dauman and Abrams are longtime confidantes to Sumner Redstone, and Dauman began helping him orchestrate corporate takeovers three decades ago, often in 5 a.m. phone calls from Redstone that would begin Dauman’s long days.