Benson v. Benson Day 1: Trial over billionaire's fortune begins - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Benson v. Benson Day 1: Trial over billionaire's fortune begins

Three doctors have examined Benson to determine if he's sufficiently mentally stable to continue controlling his own fortune. (FOX 8 Photo) Three doctors have examined Benson to determine if he's sufficiently mentally stable to continue controlling his own fortune. (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

The battle over control of Tom Benson's fortune played out behind closed doors in Orleans Parish Civil Court on Monday. An appeals court upheld Judge Kern Reese's decision to close the hearing and keep out all members of the media.

"I'm still walking, so I feel good," Benson, 87, said as he left the courtroom with a cane and an escort. "I can't talk about nothing. I just feel good."

He looked unfazed by the battle over his empire, which includes the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans franchises. When asked if he was still competent to run the teams, he responded strongly, "I've been running them for 50 years."

On Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from Benson's nurse and his longtime business partner Tom Roddy. Both refused to comment publicly.

"We're trying to do what's best for Tom Benson, his family, the city, the state and all the fans of the Saints and Pelicans. We're just concerned he gets the protection that he needs and deserves and that we all do," said Benson family's attorney, Randy Smith.

Benson and his estranged family are fighting over his fortune after he announced that his wife, Gayle, would take over when he dies. The decision was followed by the family saying Benson was incapable of taking care of himself and his two franchises.

Three doctors have examined Benson to determine if he's sufficiently mentally stable to continue controlling his own fortune. The controversial case is still very public, even though it is a closed hearing.

"The judged weighed the difference between what Mr. Benson's rights were versus the First Amendment, and he thinks that he deserves some privacy here," FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti said. "I know the media is upset with that, but it looks like the appeals court agreed with Judge Reese."

Raspanti said closed hearings are not uncommon, and he believes even though Benson is a public persona it does not mean details of his health and life are, as well.

"He doesn't want his business out on the street. It's not a publicly held corporation. He's not running for office. He didn't choose this. He has to be there. So the judge is trying to offer him some semblance of privacy and balancing it with the public's right and need to know," Raspanti said.

The hearing will continue Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. 

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.

  • Benson v. Benson Day 1: Trial over billionaire's fortune beginsMore>>

  • Benson Power Struggle

    Benson Power Struggle

    The Benson family power struggle plays out in court and in the public eye. You can find a list of recent FOX 8 stories and court documents connected to the drama.more>>
    The Benson family power struggle plays out in court and in the public eye. You can find a list of recent FOX 8 stories and court documents connected to the drama.more>>
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

    Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

        One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction.  She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    more>>

    One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction. She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    more>>
  • 'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    Thursday, April 27 2017 12:17 AM EDT2017-04-27 04:17:43 GMT
    Friday, April 28 2017 11:32 PM EDT2017-04-29 03:32:02 GMT
    Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children.

    more>>

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children. 

    more>>
  • 'I got 2 clips!' Impatient mom pulls out gun, threatens barber cutting son's hair

    'I got 2 clips!' Impatient mom pulls out gun, threatens barber cutting son's hair

    Friday, April 28 2017 5:45 PM EDT2017-04-28 21:45:21 GMT
    (Source: Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County Facebook)(Source: Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County Facebook)

    Police are looking for a woman who pointed a gun at a barber all because her son's haircut was taking too long.

    more>>

    Police are looking for a woman who pointed a gun at a barber all because her son's haircut was taking too long.

    more>>
Powered by Frankly