Settlement reached between Tom Benson and trustees

Settlement reached between Tom Benson and trustees

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A settlement was reached Friday in the lawsuit between Tom Benson and his trustees, ending a legal battle that lasted over a year-and-a-half.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but according to Benson's attorney, the Saints and Pelicans owner is pleased with the settlement.

"He's pleased with the settlement obviously,"Attorney Phil Wittmann said. "It ends this litigation with the trustees and he'll be able to go forward with the plans he put in place last January."

Those plans include giving sole ownership of the Saints and Pelicans to Gayle Benson when Tom Benson passes.

A team spokesman said business operations between the Saints, Pelicans, WVUE-FOX 8, automotive dealerships and Benson Tower will remain "business as usual."

The agreement will need to be approved by the NFL and the NBA before it can go into effect.

Benson sued to remove shares in the Saints and Pelicans from the trust funds he created for his daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc. He later announced plans to leave the teams to his wife, Gayle Benson.

Tom Benson's plan was to remove shares in the Saints and Pelicans from the trust funds and replace them with assets of equal value, specifically promissory notes with interest. However, the trustees guarding the funds blocked Benson's move and Benson sued them in return.

"We are pleased that an agreement has been reached and that these important issues are close to an amicable resolution," reads a statement from Trustees Robert Rosenthal and Mary Rowe. "As trustees, our objectives all along have been to protect the integrity of the trusts and to reassure the public that the Saints and Pelicans will continue to call New Orleans home."

Renee, Rita and Ryan petitioned a New Orleans court to have Tom Benson declared mentally incompetent soon after. They claimed that Tom Benson is in mental decline and being influenced by his wife to put the two teams under her control.

A competency trial was held by Orleans Civil District Judge Kern Reese, which was closed to the public. Judge Reese ruled that Benson is mentally competent to manage his affairs. The heirs lost their appeal of the decision.

The two sides were scheduled to go to trial Monday, June 20.

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