A Delaware court has requested a “coordinated plan” to approach discovery as to the competency of 93-year-old media mogul Sumner Redstone, the latest chapter in a contentious ongoing legal battle with executives the mogul removed from his Viacom board earlier this year.
Any new discovery, if approved by Judge Andre Bouchard next week after attorneys, could be used as evidence in an October 17 trial debating the legality of Redstone’s May decision to remove Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and other prominent members of the media company’s board.
Judge Bouchard indicated that “human dignity” was his priority, and gave both sides a week to formulate a plan for an independently conducted review of Redstone’s mental state. He cautioned against “unnecessary duplication” in the process.
Bouchard also said he wanted answers over claims that Redstone’s daughter Shari was unlawfully acting as her father’s proxy, or if Sumner is indeed making his own decisions.
“We are pleased the court has recognized the need to swiftly proceed to determine the serious issues of undue influence and Mr. Redstone’s capacity,” attorneys for the Viacom board members said.
“This is the second court in two days that has refused to dismiss the matter and ruled that discovery will go forward. We look forward to revealing the truth as we prepare for trial in both Massachusetts and Delaware in October.”
A spokesperson for National Amusements said “today’s ruling does not constitute a judgment on the merits of this case. National Amusements exercised its indisputable rights as Viacom’s majority shareholder to make changes to Viacom’s board. We look forward to demonstrating the integrity of these changes.”
Two other trails are running concurrently with the Delaware matter — a Massachusetts case brought on by Dauman after his ousting from the board of National Amusements and a case brought in California by a former girlfriend and caretaker of Sumner’s that questions his competency.