Redstone's Ex-Companion Files RICO Suit -- WSJ

By Keach Hagey Features Dow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 17, 2017).

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Sumner Redstone's former companion has sued his daughter and grandson for more than $100 million, alleging they effectively ran a criminal enterprise to illegally spy on her and oust her from the media mogul's life.

The complaint was filed in federal court in California on Monday, claiming violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act -- a law created to prosecute the mafia.

In the suit, Manuela Herzer claims that Shari Redstone and her son, Tyler Korff, conspired with Mr. Redstone's nurses and staff members to eavesdrop on Ms. Herzer and Mr. Redstone's communications with his attorneys, to break into her computer to plant documents and gather information, and to spy on her with security cameras in Mr. Redstone's mansion, among other actions.

Ms. Redstone, along with the help of family and staff, is accused of forcing Ms. Herzer from Mr. Redstone's life "as a direct means of gaining control of his estate plan and his media companies" -- National Amusements, CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., according to the complaint.

Mr. Redstone, 94, is the controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS through his National Amusements holding company. Viacom and CBS declined to comment.

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"Having gotten nowhere in her previous three lawsuits against Sumner, his family, and his nurses and household staff, Ms. Herzer has concocted a work of pure fiction designed for media spectacle," Robert Klieger, an attorney for Ms. Redstone who works at Hueston Hennigan, said in a statement. "Shari unequivocally rejects the fantastical allegations dreamt up by the latest in Ms. Herzer's revolving door of lawyers."

Tyler Korff's lawyer, Dan Small, of Holland & Knight, said in a statement that the filing "is yet another flimsy attempt by Ms. Herzer to demean the Redstone family through court filings filled with fictional allegations and outrageous claims.

"Just as all her past lawsuits have failed, we are confident that this latest installment will meet the same fate," the statement said.

Ms. Herzer, a onetime girlfriend of Mr. Redstone's, lived with him in his Beverly Park mansion from 2013 until 2015, when both she and another former girlfriend, Sydney Holland, were forced out of the mansion. In her complaint Monday, Ms. Herzer accuses Ms. Redstone of conspiring to kick them out of her father's house so that she could then begin to "puppet his wishes" and maneuver to take over his media empire.

Since the women left the mansion, Ms. Redstone has risen to prominence. Her longtime rival, Philippe Dauman, was ousted from her father's trust and his position as Viacom's chief executive following a precipitous decline in the company's stock.

Ms. Herzer's latest lawsuit ratchets up a continuing legal battle between herself and the Redstones.

In the spring of 2014, according to court documents from previously filed lawsuits, Mr. Redstone gave Ms. Holland and Ms. Herzer $45 million each, in addition to writing them into his estate plan for many millions more. Lawyers representing Mr. Redstone have alleged these gifts were the result of undue influence, as Mr. Redstone lacked the capacity to make decisions at the time, and have sued to reclaim the money.

Ms. Herzer and Ms. Holland have countersued, claiming that Mr. Redstone knew what he was doing when he gave them the gifts and that their ouster was engineered by Ms. Redstone. Those dueling lawsuits are pending.

In the wake of her ejection from the mansion, Ms. Herzer filed a separate suit in November 2015 claiming that Mr. Redstone was a "living ghost" who lacked the mental capacity to have removed her as his health-care agent. In the course of that legal battle, Mr. Redstone stepped down as executive chairman of CBS and Viacom.

Write to Keach Hagey at keach.hagey@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 17, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)