Heirs appeal ruling in Tom Benson's competency trial

Heirs appeal ruling in Tom Benson's competency trial

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Renee Benson, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, have filed an appeal of the judgment ruling Tom Benson is competent, according to attorney Randy Smith.

Benson's daughter and grandchildren point to the refusal of the Saints and Pelicans owner's attorneys to allow the 87-year-old billionaire take the witness stand. They believe that is further evidence of his diminished mental state.

"Renee, Rita, and Ryan, having heard with their own ears and seen with their own eyes Tom Benson's mental decline, as well as the compelling evidence presented at trial from every single witness, believe that Tom Benson remains in the 'foggy state' described by the Court, and that the cognitive impairment acknowledged by the Court is worse and will only continue to worsen," Smith said in an emailed statement.

They argue that the 'foggy state' could make Benson susceptible to decisions made with out factual basis or using false information.

The heirs are appealing in particular the denial of multiple requests to question Tom Benson before and during trial. And because of the "reliance by the court upon only select portions of the testimony, including certain opinions of physicians who employed insufficient methodology and applied improper standards."

Civil Court judge Kern Reese ruled Thursday that Benson is mentally competent to manage his business affairs. The ruling came after two weeks of testimony from both sides involved in the family power struggle.

Benson's daughter and grandchildren want the courts will eventually appoint a curator to grant Benson the protection they believe he needs, according to Smith.

They hope to reclaim their stake in the Saints and Pelicans after being shut out by Benson earlier this year.

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