Judge issues unusual letter concerning Benson family feud

Judge issues unusual letter concerning Benson family feud

The San Antonio judge involved in one of Tom Benson's family legal fights says the billionaire is "at war with himself."

Judge Tom Rickhoff used those words in a March 9 letter recently filed in a Texas federal court. The letter is written to the two receivers he appointed to replace Benson at trustee of the Texas trust fund.

"Tom Benson has been very generous in setting up trusts in Louisiana for his daughter and grandchildren and the trust in Texas. He was preserving the assets in that trust for essentially the same people, and it was they who sued him. They're at war with him both in Texas and in Louisiana," says Phil Wittman.

While it isn't a ruling, the letter seems to reveal the judge's opinion on the family feud. The judge wrote, "What is this litigation? It's Tom Benson 2011 versus Tom Benson 2014.

"Big businessmen are still just like all of us, and cannot just sign whatever they want and think if it goes South, I'll just litigate." The judge goes on to tell the receivers to drop all legal action against Benson.

The Texas trust holds interests in Lone Star Capital Bank, car dealerships, cash and real estate. The New Orleans trust fund contains so-called "no voting shares" of the Saints and Pelicans.

Tom Benson's attorney, Phil Wittman, says the receivers had no business filing an intervention in Texas to take action on assets in the New Orleans trust fund.

"The judge, I guess, thought they were going too far," says Wittman.

In the judge's letter, he wrote, "When Tom Benson passes, the I.T. dictates the team owners to be the beneficiaries. Until then, millions in wasteful attorney fees can be consumed yet obtaining the same result."

He went on to tell them to await the New Orleans result and monitor the suit.

Benson's attorney tells FOX 8 that despite having written the letter, Rickhoff may never rule in this case because the Texas trust fund case has been moved to federal court in San Antonio.

Randy Smith, the New Orleans attorney representing Benson's heirs, told FOX 8 that he thought the letter was instructive and made excellent points.

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