Sumner Redstone Has 'Legal Mental Capacity' to Make Decisions, His Doctor Says

Media mogul Sumner Redstone, shown in December 2012, has trouble speaking but was alert and in no distress on May 20, according to his doctor. ENLARGE
Media mogul Sumner Redstone, shown in December 2012, has trouble speaking but was alert and in no distress on May 20, according to his doctor. Photo: Fred Prouser/REUTERS

A doctor for media mogul Sumner Redstone said the ailing 93-year-old “retains the legal mental capacity to make the decisions” he has made in recent weeks regarding oversight of his controlling interests in Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

Dr. James Spar, who has counted Mr. Redstone as a patient for two years, said he met with him twice in late May, including the day that Viacom Chairman Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams were informed of their removal from Mr. Redstone’s holding company, National Amusements Inc., and the trust that will oversee his holdings when he dies or is incapacitated.

“He’s done a bad job running Viacom,” Dr. Spar said Mr. Redstone told him when asked on May 20 why he was removing Mr. Dauman as a member of the trust. Mr. Abrams was removed, Mr. Redstone said, because “he’s not listening to me.”

Mr. Redstone struggles with his speech and an interpreter was on hand during the interviews to decipher his remarks, a person familiar with the exam said. Dr. Spar said in his evaluation that Mr. Redstone was “well dressed and groomed, alert and in no distress.”

On May 24, Dr. Spar met with Mr. Redstone again and the mogul cited Viacom’s stock price, which has risen since Mr. Dauman was removed from the trust, as proof of Mr. Dauman’s poor performance.

Mr. Redstone “clearly communicated to me that he understood and appreciated the rights, duties and responsibilities affected by those decisions; the probably consequences for himself and other persons affected by the decisions, and the significant risks, benefits and reasonable alternatives involved in those decisions,” Dr. Spar said.

A Viacom spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The evaluations of Dr. Spar, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, are in contrast to how Mr. Redstone’s health has been described by Mr. Dauman and the mogul’s own granddaughter. A lawsuit by Messrs. Dauman and Abrams seeking to block their removal from the trust and National Amusements said Mr. Redstone “cannot initiate or participate in meaningful conversation, including discussions concerning his business or personal affairs” and his ability “to understand and assess the consequences of his actions is limited.”


WSJ.com: US Business

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