Media mogul’s mental competency at center of Mass. probate case

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CANTON, Mass. (AP) — The mental competency of media mogul Sumner Redstone is at the center of a battle to be heard in a Massachusetts courtroom as Viacom’s embattled chief executive seeks to be restored as a director and trustee to entities that control Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams sued Redstone after both men were stripped of their roles as trustees of the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust and as board members of National Amusements Inc., the movie theater chain.

In their lawsuit, Dauman and Abrams allege Redstone, 93, was not mentally competent when he removed them and is being manipulated by his once-estranged daughter, Shari Redstone, to take control of his businesses.

The suit was filed in Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton because the trust is administered inMassachusetts. National Amusements is headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts.

The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.

In court papers, lawyers for Dauman and Abrams have asked the judge to order an immediate medical evaluation of Redstone. They also ask for a quick trial, arguing that Redstone is suffering from “overwhelming physical ailments,” is unable to speak, stand, walk, eat, write or read, and has a progressive neurological disease characterized by dementia.

“In the absence of prompt proceedings, there is grave risk that Sumner Redstone will not be available to provide any evidence in this case,” they argued in court documents Monday.

Last week, Redstone’s attorneys filed court papers saying he has been examined twice recently by a geriatric psychiatrist, who said Redstone is “clearly communicating” his business decisions, which “reflect his own authentic wishes and preferences.” Lawyers for Dauman and Abrams dismissed that evaluation as “one-sided” and “distorted.”

Viacom Inc., a media conglomerate based in New York, owns the Paramount Pictures movie studio and pay TV channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET.