Saints owner Tom Benson has been ruled mentally competent and fit to run his businesses by Judge Kem Reese, according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune (on Twitter). The official ruling is expected to come down this afternoon.
The ruling is expected to have major implications on the future of both the Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Years ago, the Saints owner designated granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc as his handpicked successor. Then, in January, he announced that he decided to instead transfer ownership of the city’s two major pro sports franchises to his wife, Gayle, when he dies. Meanwhile, LeBlanc’s offices at the teams’ Metairie headquarters were vacated and her company-issued Mercedes-Benz and cell phone was seized. LeBlanc, who was less than thrilled by all of this, filed a lawsuit claiming Benson is mentally incompetent and is being manipulated by his wife.
Benson, 87, was forced to undergo evaluations by three different doctors to determine whether he remains competent to control his NFL and NBA franchises. One doctor was appointed by Benson, one by his daughter Renee, and the third was named by those first two physicians.
While the ruling was of significant importance to the Saints’ future, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com recently wrote that relocation was not in the cards regardless of who was put in charge. The Saints are locked into their current stadium lease until 2025.
Over the past five months, the battle has been nothing but ugly both in the courtroom and in the press. Today’s resolution, barring an appeal, should bring the circus to a close.
For more on how the ruling affects the NBA’s Pelicans, head on over to Hoops Rumors, our sister site for the NBA.