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Viacom CEO Serves as Health Care Proxy for Boss

Philippe-Dauman - Sumner Redstone

 

Although it is highly unusual for one to serve as health care proxy for one’s boss, that is exactly what will occur in the case of 92-year-old Sumner Redstone, the executive chairman of Viacom Inc.

Redstone has designated his Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Dauman, to be his health fiduciary in the event he can no longer make health care decisions for himself. Dauman’s control over Redstone’s health care includes the right to determine whether he should be given food or water if he is unable to make such decisions.

Dauman speaks with his boss many times a week, and visits him at his home in Beverly Hills each month. He said that on Nov. 3, they talked about Redstone’s former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer. According to Dauman, Redstone told him that Herzer had made threats that she was going to litigate, and that she is only interested in his money.

Herzer’s lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 25 in California state court, renewed inquiries about the state of Redstone’s health, causing a prominent investor in his empire to require details regarding his condition, and persuading Viacom to issue a public statement that Redstone is “mentally capable.” In addition, the case revealed that Dauman has become increasingly influential over Redstone’s financial affairs, as people consider what the future holds for Viacom and CBS Corp., both of which are controlled by Redstone, and have a combined net worth of $42 billion.

Usually, one chooses one’s closest family member to be one’s health care proxy. While Herzer assumed that role under a prior directive, Dauman acted as the back-up person. Previously, Herzer and another girlfriend of Redstone named Sydney Holland were both equally responsible for his health care. The fact that Redstone has entrusted his friend and business partner with such a personal responsibility is indicative of the strength of their relationship.

According to Herzer’s lawsuit, she requests that Redstone be deemed incompetent to make decisions independently, and that the role of health care agent be restored to her. However, Redstone’s lawyers answered with testimony from his physicians who maintain that his brain scan showed favorable results and that he had capacity to complete the estate planning documents. California Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein ruled in favor of Redstone, stating that he seemed to be well taken care of, and that there was no need for more evaluations. Redstone has requested that Herzer’s suit be dismissed.

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