Media mogul Redstone's trial

Nurse-informers, paid escort revealed in new lawsuit

Sumner Redstone.
Sumner Redstone.

LOS ANGELES • Within minutes after a court abruptly dismissed a mental competency case brought by a former girlfriend of media mogul Sumner Redstone after just one day of testimony, she filed a new lawsuit that threatens to keep salacious allegations about the 92-year-old's lifestyle.

On Monday, Judge David Cowan, citing blunt videotaped testimony from Mr Redstone, threw out Ms Manuela Herzer's lawsuit challenging her removal from his healthcare directive.

He stressed that he was not making a finding related to Mr Redstone's mental capacity, but was focusing on the issue of his healthcare. He wrote in his ruling: "There is no good cause for further judicial involvement where the court has now heard directly from Redstone that he has lost trust in Herzer, does not want her in his life and instead wants his daughter Shari to look after him if necessary."

The quick end to a month-long legal drama was a clear victory for Mr Redstone and his daughter.

If Ms Herzer, 52, had proved her case, it could have triggered a chain of events that would result in the transfer of Mr Redstone's controlling stake in media giants Viacom Inc and CBS Corp to a seven-person trust that includes Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman and Ms Redstone.

News emerged late on Monday that Viacom Inc's board were considering whether to further cut the pay of Mr Redstone, its chairman emeritus. His total compensation was US$2 million (S$2.7 million) in fiscal 2015, down from US$13 million the previous year.

Viacom and CBS Corp board members are also planning to visit him to investigate his competence for themselves, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The new complaint, filed by Ms Herzer in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, alleged that Ms Redstone, her two sons and members of Mr Redstone's household staff interfered with the inheritance Ms Herzer was due to receive in his will.

The lawsuit asserted that Ms Redstone, during a period when she was estranged from her father, assembled a network of "nurse-informers" within his Beverly Hills mansion to report on his activities and turn Mr Redstone against Ms Herzer.

The lawsuit, seeking at least US$70 million in damages, argued that the nurses violated medical privacy laws as part of a conspiracy that started in September 2014.

It also said one of the nurses, Mr Jeremy Jagiello, controlled Mr Redstone's access "to his favourite paid 'escort'". The woman received at least US$7 million from Mr Redstone, the lawsuit said, including an upfront payment, a house and US$4,500 a month in cash that was left for her at the guard gate to his mansion.

Mr Jagiello arranged the woman's visits "and even stayed in the room with Sumner during his intimate encounters" with her, the lawsuit said. He also relayed "supposed love messages" from the woman to Mr Redstone "to increase his influence over Sumner, crossing ethical and professional boundaries without hesitation".

In a statement, Ms Redstone called the accusations "total fiction".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Nurse-informers, paid escort revealed in new lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe