|Gayle Benson, Tom Benson & Rita Benson LeBlanc|
A Texas judge has ordered a temporary freeze on the money and assets in a trust controlled by New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, an order requested by his daughter, Renee Benson.
The temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Thomas E. Rickhoff of Bexar County on Wednesday (Jan. 21), prevents Benson from withdrawing, transferring or otherwise diminishing the value of the Shirley L. Benson Testamentary Trust.
Tom Benson's longtime wife Shirley died in 1980 from lupus.
On Thursday, Renee Benson and her children Rita and Ryan LeBlanc filed a lawsuit in New Orleans claiming that Tom Benson is incompetent to control the Saints and Pelicans sports empire. The move came after Tom Benson on Wednesday announced that his wife, Gayle, not his granddaughter Rita, should take over the clubs after he dies.
According to the lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, Renee Benson has worked closely with her father in managing his business interests, including serving as president and owner of Renson Enterprises LLC in San Antonio, which manages several Benson family auto-dealerships. She has also served as vice chairman of Bensco Inc., a subsidiary that owns dealerships, the lawsuit said.
On Jan. 7, Benson "purportedly instructed" all of his auto dealerships to ban Renee Benson and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, from visiting the dealerships and asked managers to call the police if necessary, according to the lawsuit.
Under the temporary restraining order in Texas, Tom Benson cannot limit the access of Renee Benson and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, to those dealerships. He also is ordered to continue paying monthly management fees to Renson Enterprises.
The lawsuit claims that in December and January, Benson failed to perform his duties as trustee of the Shirley L. Benson Testamentary Trust, including paying management fees, property insurance and property taxes on time.
A hearing on a request for a temporary injunction extending the conditions is set for Feb. 4.
Benson spokesman Greg Bensel declined comment Thursday on the Texas proceedings and the lawsuit in New Orleans.
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In fight over Tom Benson's fortune, Texas judge temporarily freezes assets