Attorneys for Benson, heirs square off with $1 billion at stake

Attorneys for Benson, heirs square off with $1 billion at stake

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A federal judge may rule later on whether or not to allow Tom Benson's billion-dollar succession deal to move forward.

With that much at stake, attorneys for the Saints owner and his daughter and grandchildren squared off again Wednesday in federal court.

Attorneys for the heirs are asking the judge to throw out a Benson succession deal that seeks to remove the heirs from direct ownership of the Saints and Pelicans. The new deal proposes giving daughter Renee and grandchildren Rita and Ryan Benson promissory notes instead.

But in court, the heirs' attorney Thomas Flanagan argued that as of January 2015 when the deal was first proposed, "those promissory notes were unsecured," and he said as of today, "those notes are still unsecured."

The heirs also claim the deal needs NFL approval.

But Benson attorney Phil Wittman said that approval can't come until after the deal is accepted by the court.

Wittman said, "the league doesn't even look at the deal until after the transaction is finalized." He also said "Mr. Benson has unilateral power to transfer his assets."

The attorneys for the heirs are hoping for a favorable ruling on the merits before this case goes to trial. That could happen, but Judge Jane Milazzo has gone ahead and set a June 2 trial date.

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