Judge finds Tom Benson competent

Judge finds Tom Benson competent

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Civil Court judge Kern Reese ruled Thursday that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson is mentally competent to manage his business affairs. (Read the ruling here.)

The ruling comes after two weeks of testimony from both sides involved in the family power struggle. Closing arguments were given Friday (June 12).

In the ruling the judge stated:

"The court sat across from the defendant, looked into his eyes, listened carefully to his responses, and concluded the capacity to make reasoned decisions was present."

Saints Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel tweeted the following statement on behalf of 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.

Tom Benson

In response to the ruling, the attorney for the heirs, Randy Smith, sent the following statement:

Our clients, Renee Benson and Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, are disappointed that the Court opted not to appoint a Curator and Undercurator today to protect their father and grandfather, as well as the teams and businesses. For his sake, and that of the fans, customers, and employees, they will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to assure his well-being and that of the Saints, Pelicans, and Benson Automobile dealerships.

The eight days of testimony in the battle over control of Benson's fortune began behind closed doors in Orleans Parish Civil Court on June 1.

The judge heard from 12 witnesses, although Tom Benson was never called to testify. Benson's children, grandchildren and wife were all called on to testify throughout the trial

Benson and his estranged family were 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.

The case was brought on by his daughter Renee and two grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, who sought interdiction and were denied.

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