Massachusetts Judge George Phelan wants the Redstones to hash out their own family problems, suggesting mediation may be more appropriate than his courtroom — and the other ones in Delaware and California, too.
The Probate and Family Court magistrate called upon attorneys for both Sumner and Keryn Redstone to call their clients today and set up a face-to-face meeting between grandfather and granddaughter — an effort in “defrosting” the icy relationship. Both sides seemed agreeable to the notion, though there were still certainly some sticking points — most notably an assurance for Keryn that she would not be cut out of the Sumner M. Redstone trust and the millions of dollars that comes along with it.
Phelan wants both sides to present him with information on a family meeting — or some other potential resolution — by the court’s afternoon session. What he didn’t do was approve the Philippe Dauman settlement to step down as Viacom’s top executive. (The court was on break for lunch at the time of publication.)
Under the Massachusetts rule of civil procedure, Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams cannot dismiss their claims and end their portion of the lawsuit without the judge’s permission. The issue today is the extent to which the judge will scrutinize the settlement as a condition of approving their dismissal. That will now have to wait at least until everyone is satiated.
Before grabbing a sandwich, however, Sumner’s attorney appealed to the human element here, pointing out how little time his 93-year-old client likely has left on earth, and insisting that this constant legal battle is no way to spend those days, weeks, months or years. Everyone involved seemed on the same page there, as Keryn’s lawyer kept stressing how much she loves her granddad.
Friday’s pre-trial hearing was live-streamed by Courtroom View Network, though the connection and volume level were problematic throughout.
The Redstone Trust and its private National Amusements, Inc. own about 80 percent of Viacom and CBS. Dauman recently accepted a settlement to walk away as Viacom’s president and CEO, as well as to depart its board of directors and drop his non-executive chairman title. All that is supposed to be a done deal by Sept. 13 — you know, so long as Phelan is cool with it.
Speaking of deals, Dauman actually scored a pretty sweet one, all things considered. Read the details of his $72 million golden parachute here.
Should everything go according to plan, COO Tom Dooley will take his place as interim chief executive officer of the publicly traded (VIAB) company. Additionally, five new board members will receive chairs, with three unnamed existing ones stepping down at some point in the future.