Jump to content
Bringing you the latest information on all your favorite shows.. Register today!
Sign in to follow this  

NFL: Saints’ Owner Being Sued By His Family


Midnight Man

Tom Benson's family is fighting back in court, claiming he has diminished mental capacity after he announced plans to remove them from control of his businesses, including the NFL's New Orleans Saints and NBA's Pelicans. Benson, 87, announced that he plans to hand over control of the franchises to his wife, Gayle, in the event of his death. But Benson's adopted daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming he should not be allowed to do so because his "health and mental capacity have significantly declined" and he has "fallen under the undue influence" of Gayle, whom Benson married in 2004. "I am extremely disappointed by the lawsuit filed against me today by my daughter and two grandchildren," he said. "Their allegations regarding my mental health are completely meritless and their allegations against my wife equally unfounded. I will vigorously defend my decisions and the businesses I have built. The false accusations in this suit further support the actions I have taken in changing the succession and transfer of ownership. There is a small sign that sits on my desk and simply states 'Tough times never last; but tough people do.' Make no mistake, I will be back in the office tomorrow morning working hard, as I do every day, to ensure that the Saints and Pelicans are positioned for long-term success. This State, City and our great fans deserve that. I have instructed my staff to have no comment on this lawsuit moving forward." A source close to Benson described him as "healthy" on Wednesday night. And chief executives of both the Saints and Pelicans, Mickey Loomis and Dennis Lauscha, both strongly endorsed the ownership transfer in a statement released by the team on Thursday, as did New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Multiple sources also have cited the longstanding friction between Gayle and the family among the reasons for Benson's decision to change the ownership succession plan.

The 27-page lawsuit lays out numerous examples of alleged "bizarre and uncharacteristic behavior" by Tom Benson -- including an email that apparently was sent from Benson to his family members on Dec. 27, announcing that he never wanted to see Renee, Rita or Ryan again and his intention to ban them from Saints and Pelicans facilities and games, as well as other New Orleans businesses. Soon after that, Benson terminated granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc's position as owner/vice chairman of the board. She once was being groomed as his heir apparent. The lawsuit questioned the authenticity of the email and made several claims that Gayle has taken multiple steps to isolate Benson from his family while increasingly influencing his actions. The lawsuit also alleged several examples of Benson's diminished health and mental capacity, claiming that he has been heavily medicated in the past several months, while undergoing at least two knee surgeries. The suit also claimed that Benson has suffered from apparent memory lapses, including an unspecified occasion when he was asked to name the current president and guessed Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman. The suit also claims that Benson has forgotten his wife's name and once failed to recognize daughter Renee. And it claims that under Gayle's supervision, Benson's diet has "drastically deteriorated," with candy, ice cream, sodas and red wine replacing full, nutritious meals.

Benson was hospitalized twice and treated for dehydration during the team's training camp in West Virginia last summer before he returned home because he was having difficulty with the altitude. He subsequently had another knee surgery and has often required the use of a wheelchair or walker since then. However, Benson has continued to make occasional public appearances -- including a visit with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Wednesday, when he announced his plans to change his succession plan, and he made an appearance at the Pelicans game Wednesday night. The lawsuit, however, claims "although he may appear lucid for brief periods of time, such apparent lucidity quickly turns into confusion." The lawsuit lists a number of alleged "bizarre" actions regarding business dealings, mostly intended to isolate the family, and claims that Gayle Benson urged her husband into an attempt to purchase the Fairgrounds Race Course and Slots, even though the NFL forbids owners from having interests in gambling facilities. The lawsuit claims that the "petitioners have done nothing to provoke any of the above, unjustified actions and have sought and still seek to reconcile with" Benson.

The attached email allegedly sent by Benson on Dec. 27 read:

"Suddenly after I remarried you all became offensive and did not act in an appropriate manner and even had arguments among yourselves which created a very unpleasant family situation which I will not stand for. It made me very unhappy and uncomfortable. This situation cannot continue at my age. Because of the facts set out above and the heart break you have caused me I want no further contact with any of you ..."

The lawsuit asked for a full interdiction, with Renee LeBlanc being appointed as the curatrix of the person and property of Tom Benson, with Rita Benson LeBlanc as undercurator. It also asked for Benson to be examined by a certified psychiatrist. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that Gayle Benson, 67, was in significant debt and had limited credit when she met Benson. And the suit claims she is unfit for ownership of the Benson businesses because she has never owned, operated or managed a substantial business enterprise and had stated publicly before marrying Benson that she had no interest in football, basketball or sports in general. Multiple sources throughout the Saints and Pelicans organizations have widely praised Gayle both on and off the record, including quarterback Drew Brees, who was quoted by various media outlets while at the Pro Bowl on Thursday as saying, "I absolutely love Gayle" and that she is one of the sweetest people he's ever met. Gayle has been often praised as a positive influence in Tom's growing commitment to New Orleans and increased philanthropic endeavors. She helped arrange a lucrative Superdome sponsorship deal with Mercedes-Benz. And she has been credited for helping to re-brand the Pelicans (formerly the Hornets), which Tom Benson purchased in 2012. Benson's succession plan for the Saints would need to be approved by three-fourths of NFL owners. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said: "We are aware of the intent of the transaction and it is under review for the appropriate league approvals." Benson also notified the NBA of the change, and it would have to be approved by the other owners, a league source said.

Get Your Very Own 2014 NFL Trading Card Set: just click here


  Report Article
Sign in to follow this  


User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.



Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Register today!

    One click sign up and sign in!

  • Categories

    • Showtime announced today that Penny Dreadful is heading back to TV in the form of a follow-up series called Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. The new installment will be set in 1938 and will usher in…
    • CBS All Access announced today that Strange Angel has been picked up for a second season. The good news comes six weeks after the conclusion of the historical period drama's 10-episode summer run, …
    • Another hero has fallen at Netflix. The streaming service confirmed this evening that Luke Cage has been cancelled after two seasons. The news comes just one week after fellow superhero drama Iron …
    • It is being reported that Magnum P.I. has been added to the list of new shows to receive a full season order from CBS. The network has topped up its freshman run with an unspecified number of episo…
    • It is being reported that Netflix has cancelled Marvel's Iron Fist after two seasons. The sad news comes a month following the release of the drama's sophomore run. The show aired a total of 23 epi…
    • Fox today topped up the sophomore season of The Resident, ordering an additional nine episodes to bring its total to 22 - a full season's worth. The good news comes three episodes into the current …
    • One week after its freshman finale, The Outpost has been renewed for Season 2. The fantasy adventure drama debuted this summer with little buzz, airing 10 episodes that garnered mixed reviews. …
    • It's official: Veronica Mars is returning to television. Hulu has ordered eight new episodes of the detective series with star Kristen Bell on-board to reprise her role as the titular character. A …
    • NBC announced today that it is increasing its order for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, adding five episodes to the comedy's debut outing on the network. Slated for a mid-season run in 2018-2019, the half-hour…
    • It's official: Designated Survivor will be returning for a third season. The cancelled political drama has been revived by Netflix with a 10-episode order for next year. The surprise announcement c…
    • It is being reported that Mr. Robot will be coming to an end after its already-announced fourth season. The news comes more than eight months since the drama was picked up for Season 4, along with …
    • CBS announced today that The Big Bang Theory will come to an end after its upcoming 12th season. The news will see the veteran series sign off next May as one of the most-successful prime time come…
    • Five months after limited series The Alienist concluded its run, TNT has ordered another chapter to continue the story. Titled The Angel of Darkness, the sequel will be based on the follow-up novel…
    • History announced this week that Knightfall has been renewed for a second season. The freshman series, which premiered last December, is one of two original dramas currently in the cable network's …
    • It is being reported that USA Network has cancelled Shooterafter three seasons. The Ryan Phillippe drama, currently airing new episodes on Thursday nights, will air its series finale on September 1…
    • Hulu announced today that Castle Rock has been picked up for a second season. The good news comes midway through the show's freshman run, which premiered last month with new episodes currently stre…
    • FX confirmed today that Fargo will be returning for a fourth season. And while fans of the critically-acclaimed drama will surely be happy with the news of its return, they may not be too happy wit…
    • FX has confirmed that a tenth season has been ordered for American Horror Story. The pickup is an early one, as the anthology series - already renewed through Season 9 - has yet to return for Seaso…
    • Just over a month after NBC broke the hearts of #Clockblockers by cancelling Timeless for a second time, it has been confirmed that the show will indeed be returning for a two-part series finale. …
    • AMC announced today that Fear the Walking Dead has been renewed for a fifth season. The early pickup comes in the midst of Season 4, which is due to return for the second-half of its run on August …
    • Amazon Studios confirmed today that Sneaky Pete has been renewed for a third season. The good news was delivered at this summer's TCA, with the streaming giant announcing that production on the upc…
    • Netflix announced today that Altered Carbon has been renewed for a second season. The good news comes nearly six months after the release of its 10-episode freshman run, which garnered a generally …
    • Just four episodes into its freshman run, Paramount Network has announced that Yellowstone has been picked up for a second season. The good news reflects a solid start to the new drama, which becom…
    • At this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Man in the High Castle, it was announced that the streaming drama will be returning for a fourth season. The good news was also accompanied by th…
    • It appears as if Colony has been cancelled after three seasons. The sad news comes just days before the sci-fi drama's season finale - which will now serve as its series ender. The writing appe…
×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.