Sumner Redstone Settlement Talks With Ex-Girlfriend Break Down

Without a deal, a trial could begin next month in what has become a legal spectacle for both Hollywood and Wall Street

Last Updated: April 12, 2016 @ 10:14 AM

Negotiations have stalled between media mogul Sumner Redstone and the ex-girlfriend suing to be his caretaker again, setting up the potential for a high-profile trial delving deeper into sensitive personal matters of the 92-year-old billionaire.

Pierce O’Donnell, the attorney for Redstone’s former companion, Manuela Herzer, said in a statement to TheWrap that talks to reach a settlement deal “have hit a snag” that isn’t related to monetary terms.

“We remain hopeful that we can resolve our differences.  A settlement is in everyone’s best interests. But if we have to go trial, we look forward to it,” O’Donnell said.

Representatives for Redstone decline to comment.

The Los Angeles Times earlier reported the roadblock in the settlement.

Last week, lawyers for Redstone and Herzer had nailed down a preliminary framework for a settlement. In exchange for Herzer dropping her suit and ceasing contact with Redstone, she would be paid a seven-figure sum, according to a person briefed on the matter. That deal would also place Redstone in control of his own health care, while his daughter, Shari, and a long-time family friend based in Los Angeles would become his health-care proxy should he become incapacitated.

Despite hopes tthat the deal could be finalized late last week or early this week before moving to a judge for approval, talks have stalled and lawyers are preparing for the possibility of a fractious trial, the L.A. Times said.

Last year, Herzer sued to be reinstated as the steward of Redstone’s care. Her case claimed Redstone was like a “living ghost,” unable to follow conversations and sign his own name, and exposed prurient allegations of his sexual appetite. Redstone’s lawyers rejected the claims as an attempt to insinuate herself in his estate after she was removed in October.

The resulting drama has been legal spectacle grabbing the attention of watchers both in both Hollywood and on Wall Street. Redstone is controlling shareholder of two media giants, Viacom and CBS, thanks to special shares that give him roughly 80 percent control over both.

After filings and claims in the case raised questions about Redstone’s capacity to serve at the top of both companies, the mogul stepped down as chairman of both Viacom and CBS, handing the reins to CEOs Philippe Dauman and Les Moonves, respectively.

Dauman is also embroiled in the Herzer suit. He took over as Redstone’s “health-care agent” in October when Herzer was removed, and was set to be deposed in the case this summer.

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