Benson releases statement in response to judge's order

Benson releases statement in response to judge's order

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Judge Kern Reese ruled on Tuesday morning that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson must undergo an examination. He called it a standard assessment.

Three exams will be performed on Benson by three different doctors. One examination will be completed by a doctor chosen by Benson's attorneys; one will be completed by a doctor of the plaintiff's choosing; and one will be completed by an independent doctor. The examinations must be completed by March 13.

Benson's daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, filed suit against the 87-year-old after he announced plans to turn future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans over to his wife Gayle upon his death. That suit claimed Benson was not competent in managing his own affairs.

"We're not doctors, neither are my clients," said Randy Smith, Rita LeBlanc's attorney. "But they see a man who for his whole life loved them and was with them. They were a family, you know, Tom Benson lost his first two wives, Renee Benson lost her siblings and her mother and her second mother. These were her family. They were together all the time. Renee, Ryan and Rita all worked in the family business all their lives and all of a sudden they're torn apart from it."

Tom Benson's lawyers say he made a deliberate decision to leave control of the teams with Gayle Benson, his wife of 10 years.

"He's made a reasoned decision to exclude his daughter and his grandchildren from his life, he conveyed it to them clearly and consistently," said Phil Wittmann, Tom Benson's attorney. "He's told that to everyone that's talked to him since December the 27. I don't think there's any question what Benson wants to do and what he's capable of doing it. You've seen him at basketball games, you've seen him in public, he's able to get around and gets along pretty well for a man 87-years-old and he intends to stick with his decision."

On Tuesday, Benson, through the Saints organization, released the following statement:

While I am extremely disappointed in these lawsuits filed by Renee (Benson), Rita (Leblanc) and Ryan LeBlanc against me in Texas and Louisiana that have challenged my competency and my ability to manage my own assets, I must state right now that it has only strengthened my resolve to defend what I have built over the last 50 plus years. The very businesses from which those that brought the lawsuit have benefited.

In a separate case in Texas, a judge on Monday appointed two men to oversee a Benson family trust, saying it was obvious Tom Benson was facing pressures.

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