- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge on Friday ordered a medical examination of Sumner Redstone as part of an ongoing court fight over the media mogul’s health and mental capacity.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan said Friday that a doctor hired by the mogul’s ex-girlfriend should evaluate Redstone’s health and mental health. He based the ruling on the depositions of two doctors who have evaluated Redstone and believe he could undergo a short examination from another doctor.

Cowan says the evaluation should last up to an hour and cannot be attended by Redstone’s regular physician or attorneys handling the case.

Redstone’s ex-girlfriend and longtime companion Manuela Herzer has raised issues about the 92-year-old’s health and decision-making capacity after she was expelled from his house in October.

Herzer’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, praised the ruling. “Sumner asked Manuela, and she promised, to care for and protect him for the rest of his life,” O’Donnell wrote in a statement. “Today’s victory is a major milestone in honoring her commitment.”

Redstone controls CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.

His lawyers have opposed Herzer’s efforts and say Redstone receives frequent visits from a doctor and tests have shown no signs of impairment. Cowan has previously rejected attempts to have Herzer’s expert physician meet with Redstone, citing privacy concerns. He changed his mind after Herzer’s lawyers submitted a new request earlier this week and depositions from Redstone’s physicians.

One of the doctors testified that he had difficulty understanding Redstone and had to have a nurse interpret the businessman for him.

Cowan however rejected a request by Herzer’s attorneys to have Redstone undergo a deposition in his home. The judge said that would be invasive and probably beyond Redstone’s ability.

“We are gratified that the Court continues to reject Ms. Herzer’s increasingly desperate and disingenuous attempts to depose Mr. Redstone,” Redstone’s attorney Gabrielle Vidal said after the hearing.

Herzer was in control of Redstone’s care until late last year, when she was thrown out of his home. She has said she is only interested in the billionaire’s care, not his fortune.

Redstone controls CBS and Viacom through National Amusements Inc., which holds nearly 80 percent of the voting stock in both media companies. He hasn’t joined an investor conference call since November 2014. His longtime attorney Philippe Dauman, now Viacom’s CEO, has authority to make medical decisions if Redstone is deemed incapacitated by his physician, but that has not yet happened.

Herzer contends that Redstone is unable to speak and cannot meaningfully engage in decision-making about his medical care or other topics.

The allegations, which Redstone’s lawyers have vehemently contested, prompted a lawsuit Tuesday by a Viacom shareholder. The suit contends that company directors breached their fiduciary duties to shareholders by allowing millions of dollars to be paid to Redstone while he was physically and mentally incapacitated and unable to carry out his duties as chairman.

Viacom said Wednesday that Redstone’s compensation in fiscal 2015 declined 85 percent to $2 million from $13 million in fiscal 2014.

A key securities filing ahead of Viacom’s annual shareholders meeting issued Friday did not include a signature from Redstone, as previous years have.

The company owns several popular television networks, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon, as well as film studio Paramount Pictures.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at https://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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