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Sumner Redstone Mental Competency Trial Kicks Off in Los Angeles

As soapy as any CBS drama, mogul’s former companion Manuela Herzer begins court battle against Redstone family

The real-life soap opera surrounding media mogul Sumner Redstone and his mental competency is about is about to see a very public plot development.

In a packed courtroom in Los Angeles Superior Court loaded with journalists, Judge David Cowan began hearing arguments on Friday from two sides in the fight to control the healthcare and estate decisions for the 93-year-0ld CBS and Viacom chairman.

The prolonged legal fight pits Redstone’s family members against his long-time caregiver and former girlfriend.

Manuela Herzer, a “companion” of the media mogul of nearly 20 years, was ejected from Redstone’s home and life in the fall of 2015. Herzer has claimed Redstone was swayed by his daughter Shari Redstone to boot her — and that he was not of sound mind at the time.

Among those expected to testify in the trial are expert neurologists, nurses, Shari’s daughter Keryn (a surprise ally of Herzer, defying her mother) and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who served as Redstone’s health care agent from October 2015 until last month.

Redstone’s physical presence in court wasn’t mandatory, but he sat for a pre-taped interview earlier this week in his Los Angeles home.

“It is essential that the court see and hear from Redstone himself to make a fully informed decision,” Cowan ruled on Monday.