Tom Benson Mental Competency Ruling Appealed: Latest Details, Comments

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2016

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, sits with his wife Gayle Benson before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

A Louisiana appeals court will likely rule within a month whether Tom Benson is competent to run both the New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, per Katherine Sayre of the Times-Picayune.

Last June, Orleans Civil District Judge Kern Reese ruled the then-87-year-old Benson could maintain his ownership stake in both franchises after his mental competency was challenged by members of his family. A lawyer on behalf of Benson's daughter Renee LeBlanc and Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, two of Benson's grandchildren, appealed the ruling.

In January 2015, Benson decided to grant ownership of the Saints and Pelicans to his wife, Gayle Benson, upon his death. According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the LeBlancs were previously expected to inherit the team.

Florio explained the likely reasons for the change:

While a surprise on the surface, it's not a shock that Mr. Benson decided to alter his plan to give the Saints to his granddaughter.  In 2012, Rita Benson LeBlanc was removed from the football business due to concerns about her management style, which caused her to have 30 different assistants in six years.  In 2013, the NFL rejected a "poison pill" in coach Sean Payton's new contract that allowed him to leave the team if Mickey Loomis no longer served as General Manager, based on the belief that Payton wanted Loomis to remain in place as a buffer between Payton and Rita Benson LeBlanc.

Benson sued Renee, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc last March to have their stakes in the Saints and Pelicans removed from their trust funds. The two sides agreed to mediation in October, and Sayre reported on Jan. 12 the exact details of the mediation remain unknown.