Family members claim Tom Benson unfit to control Saints, Pelicans
Rita Benson LeBlanc and other members of her family have filed a lawsuit claiming that her grandfather, Tom Benson, is not competent to continue controlling the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The suit comes after Benson announced that his wife, Gayle, would assume ownership of the teams after his death. Benson's previous plan called for Benson LeBlanc to assume ownership of the Saints. Under his new plan, Benson LeBlanc, who was vice chairperson of the board for both teams, will not be involved in the future of either team, according to the report.
Benson LeBlanc's suit was filed on Thursday and presents multiple claims that Benson is mentally and physically incapable of managing personal and business matters. Benson has had two knee surgeries over the last year and uses a wheelchair and walker.
Benson later responded to the lawsuit with a statement:
"I am extremely disappointed by the lawsuit filed against me today by my daughter and two grandchildren.Their allegations regarding my mental health are completely meritless and their allegations against my wife equally unfounded.
I will vigorously defend my decisions and the businesses I have built. The false accusations in this suit further support the actions I have taken in changing the succession and transfer of ownership. There is a small sign that sits on my desk and simply states "Tough times never last; but tough people do."
According to the Times-Picayune, the lawsuit casts Gayle Benson, 67, as an opportunist who has capitalized on Benson's unfit state to secure power over the family's affairs. It requests that the court name Renee Benson, Tom's daughter and Rita's mother, as executor of Benson's sports and business matters.
Tom Benson, 87, has been married to Gayle for ten years and said in his change-of-ownership announcement that, as a New Orleans native, she was fit to lead the teams after his death.
Benson acquired the Saints in 1985 and purchased the Pelicans in 2012.