NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Judge Kern Reese on Tuesday denied initial requests to have Tom Benson undergo a 15-hour evaluation, calling it too invasive.
Dr. Howard Osofsky, the LSU Health Psychiatry chairman, says that type of evaluation could easily become too stressful on the 87-year-old.
“With that type of evaluation, they may, at any given period of time, seem as though they're not thinking correctly. It doesn't mean they're not thinking correctly,” Osofsky said.
The judge will instead have three different doctors decide whether Benson is competent to control his empire. Osofsky said doctors should begin their evaluation under the assumption that Tom Benson is competent, and then go from there.
“Within that, you want to see if the person knows what the task at hand is," Osofsky said. "In this case, I gather it would be changing his will and making the will. Then, does he know anything about the size of his estate, or what's in his will?”
Osofsky said Benson will likely be asked about his family and what he knows about his wife, daughter and grandchildren. He said the idea is to simply determine if he can rationalize why recent changes were made, and his thought process behind those decisions.
“We believe that there's something wrong. My clients believe that there's something wrong,” attorney Randy Smith said.
According to the lawsuit filed by Rita Benson Leblanc, her mother and brother, "When Tom Benson was recently asked who the current president of the United States was, he replied Ronald Reagan was the president. After being told that Reagan was not the current president, Tom Benson's second guess was Harry Truman."
“Human beings and probably old human beings even more so may get a little confused, Osofsky said. "That doesn't mean they don't have the capacity to make decisions about their lives.”
Osofsky says Benson will be answering a different set of questions during the interviews.
“If you found Mr. Benson as you interviewed him, that he didn't know who his children or grandchildren were, or didn't know who his wife is, didn't know he was the owner of the Saints or didn't know what he wants to do with his football team, that would be a different set of issues,” he said.
Judge Kern Reese said the medical exam must be completed by March 13.