Tom Benson has been declared legally competent to run his business affairs by Judge Kern Reese. The judge found the 87-year-old capable of managing his own affairs, blocking Benson’s daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc from taking over his sports, media, etc. empire. The three became know as the 3R’s among locals. They filed suit to declare the patriarch incompetent, arguing the he is in mental decline and was unduly influenced by his wife as well as an inner circle of Saints and Pelican executives.
In his ruling, Reese pointed to testimony from a nurse who cared for Tom Benson, Takiyah Daniels, who the judge said was “found to be perhaps the most credible fact witness.” Daniels testified that Benson “agonized over distancing himself from his family members, cried about it, read the December 27 2014 letter three times, and then decided to place his signature on the document,” the judge’s ruling says. “She testified that no one stood over him while he signed it,” the ruling says. “It was his decision.”
Although Benson did not take the witness stand, the judge interviewed Tom Benson in his offices on Airline Highway in a “Watermeier Hearing,” which requires attorneys for both parties to be present. The attorneys did not address any questions to Benson but rather the judge questioned him. The attorney for the 3R’s had requested Benson to testify in court, but the judge ruled Tom Benson had a right not to testify. The judge “sat across the desk from the defendant, looked into his eyes, listened carefully to his responses, and concluded the capacity to make reasoned decisions was present.”
The judge’s ruling dovetails with the testimony of the doctor chosen by Tom Benson as well as the doctor chosen by the court who found Mr. Benson had short term memory lapses but was fully capable of making rational decisions. These doctors also opined Benson was “not vulnerable to undue influence.”
Statement from Saints & Pelicans Owner Tom Benson
Gayle and I wish to thank the entire community for the overwhelming support that we have received during this trying time. Through it all, our fans and our sponsors showed unwavering support for our Saints and Pelicans.
We just finished minicamp in front of so many of our great fans and I cannot wait for training camp to start in late July.
On Monday, we will introduce our new Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry. Our football and basketball teams are my focus and that is what has me excited.
And finally, I would like to personally and sincerely thank everyone that worked on this case on our behalf – the lawyers and the staff at the Saints and Pelicans. Now I say let’s go win another Super Bowl and an NBA Championship.