Battle Over L.A. Billionaire Sumner Redstone's Trust Gets Messier

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(Photo by Charley Gallay/Stringer via Getty Images)

Sumner Redstone is still one of the richest people in LA, but the battle over the 92 year old Viacom chairman's trust has escalated over the past few days as his daughter Shari has blocked outside access to the billionaire, according to the LA Times.

Redstone is the head of a (largely inherited) media empire that is valued around $40 billion and includes Viacom and CBS Corp. There is a seven person board that will control his trust in the event of Sumner's death or "incapacitation", and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams were removed from the trust on Friday.

This ousting has sparked debates as to whether or not Sumner is mentally sound enough to make such decisions anymore, and whether Shari is guiding his hand in a manipulative and possibly illegal manner.

This upheaval comes at an unfortunate time for Viacom, which has been steadily losing cable customers to the internet for years now and has seen its stocks dropping dramatically before this kerfuffle began and only portends to get much worse.

A spokesperson for Dauman claims that the decision to oust Dauman and Abrams was likely suspect and potentially fraudulent. In a deposition earlier this year, doubts were raised as to whether Sumner was mentally competent after struggling to answer some basic questions. However, a judge decided earlier this month that Sumner was mentally capable of making decisions regarding his own healthcare.

Ex-board member Abrams told the Times, "What is going on now is unsettling and sad."

Stay tuned for a classic "powerful family fighting over a gigantic empire" legal slugfest, likely coming to a courthouse near you.

(h/t LA Times)