Sumner Redstone filed court documents today as his legal battle over Viacom heats up. In a release detailing the filing, the Redstone camp says the media mogul is asking a Massachusetts court to deny a challenge filed by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams, saying both men are motivated by “self-interest.”
“The case involves an effort by both men to block Mr. Redstone from removing them as trustees of the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust, as well as removing them as board members of National Amusements, Inc. (NAI). Through these entities, Mr. Redstone controls approximately 80 percent of the voting shares of Viacom,” the release says.
Among the key points in today’s court filing, as summarized in the release:
Sumner Redstone has the mental capacity and authority to make business decisions.
- A renowned Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dr. James Spar, has examined Mr. Redstone twice in the past two weeks, including on the day he removed Dauman and Abrams. Dr. Spar reports Mr. Redstone is “clearly communicating” his business decisions and they “…reflect his own authentic wishes and preferences…”
- The Trust has clearly defined procedures to determine incapacity. Those procedures have not been activated, so there was no incapacity at the time Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams were removed.
The result will be the same regardless of Mr. Redstone’s capacity.
- A majority of the trustees support and have ratified Mr. Redstone’s actions, so even if he had been incapacitated, the result would be the same — both men would still be removed from the Trust and NAI board.
Sumner Redstone is not being “manipulated” by his daughter to “assume control of his businesses.”
- Dr. Spar reports Mr. Redstone repeatedly commented that “…he makes all the decisions about Viacom…” The psychiatrist observed that the changes Mr. Redstone has made “seemed to reflect his own, authentic wishes and preferences, and not the influence of any of the individuals in his environment.”
- Contrary to claims by Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams that Shari Redstone is taking advantage of her father, the reality is that Mr. Redstone wanted Shari to assume a leadership role after he dies. The Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust expresses his intentions for his daughter to succeed him as Chairperson of NAI and Viacom, and requires the Trustees to support that. It was Shari’s decision, not Mr. Redstone’s, not to become the Chairperson of Viacom when Mr. Redstone stepped down this past February.
Issues related to the Trust should be handled by a court in California, not Massachusetts.
- Sumner Redstone lives in California, which is where he carries out activities of the Trust, including the actions he took to remove Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams.
- Mr. Redstone has filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court to confirm the validity of his removal of Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams from the Trust. That case has been assigned to the same judge who recently threw out a challenge to changes Mr. Redstone made to other of his estate planning documents.
As his court filing in Massachusetts today indicates, Mr. Redstone believes Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams are acting opportunistically and out of “self-interest,” not the interests of the Trust or its beneficiaries. As a result, he is asking the Massachusetts court to deny the motion by Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams for expedited discovery and trial.