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The Family Dispute Over Ownership Of The Saints Is Getting Ugly

This morning, an official press release was sent out announcing that New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson had drastically restructured his plans for the inevitable ownership transfer of each team. Under the new plan, the 87-year-old Benson's daughter, Renee Benson, and her two children will be cut out completely. Upon Benson's death, full ownership of the Saints and Pelicans will be transferred to his 67-year-old third wife, Gayle. Obviously, those family members who are being left out in the cold are not too happy about this, and they are now suing.

Renee and her two children, Rita Benson-LeBlanc and Ryan Benson-LeBlanc, filed a lawsuit in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court that seeks to block the change in succession. The lawsuit claims that Tom Benson lacks the mental capacity to make such a decision on his own, and is being manipulated by his wife. The New Orleans Advocate has a few details from the suit:

The petition says that Benson's mental health has also been deteriorating. When he was recently asked who the president of the United States was, he replied "Ronald Reagan" and then guessed "Harry Truman," according to the petition. It does not say who asked him those questions or who was present when he answered.

The petition claims that Benson shows brief periods of lucidity, but "that quickly turns into confusion."


Looks like we've got a real old-fashioned American inheritance dispute on our hands, complete with an allegedly demented old billionaire, a potentially gold-digging third wife, and a group of jilted relatives who aren't about to let their billion-dollar nest egg be snatched away from them at the 11th hour. This dispute will probably drag on for a long time, and get uglier with each passing day.

Update: Here is the letter Benson wrote to Rita, Renee, and Ryan, notifying them of his decision. It is cold as hell.

[New Orleans Advocate]

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