Competency trial for Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson set to begin
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and some of his estranged relatives are due in court on Monday to begin proceedings over whether the 87-year-old is competent enough to continue overseeing both franchises, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
A civil district court judge set the hearing date in April to review the confidential mental health report on Benson. That report will not be released to the public and the media is not allowed in the court proceedings.
Three psychiatrists evaluated the mental stability of Benson after his daughter, Renee and her two children sued him after he announced that his wife, Gayle, will succeed him as the owner of both teams. The previous plan had called for his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, to take over ownership.
Benson’s relatives say that he is in declining mental and physical health. Benson has been seen using a wheelchair and walker to assist his mobility after several knee surgeries but says he is otherwise healthy.
Benson says those relatives will still inherit millions of dollars from him when he dies, but his heirs insist they don’t want him to be isolated from them as he gets older.
Benson was temporarily removed by a Texas judge as a trustee for a trust his first wife set up for Renee Benson. That trust does not include the Saints or Pelicans.
If civil district court in New Orleans rules in favor the plaintiffs, Benson would be forced to give up control of his businesses to a court-appointed individual.
- Scooby Axson