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Mediation Outcome Unclear in Dispute between Saints Owner and Daughter

Friday, January, 22, 2016

The dispute concerning control of a trust fund in Texas between Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his daughter Renee might still be ongoing, according to attorneys associated with the case. The attorneys refused to comment further on the case. Media was also unable to determine whether Benson attended the meetings or sent a representative. Like most mediation sessions, the talks between both parties was confidential.


If mediation is not successful, it is headed to a jury trial on February 1st of this year. The judge overseeing the case insists it should not be delayed. The main questions now concerning the case are whether mediation could still be successful in the weeks prior to the trial date and whether Tom Benson should be forced to give a deposition prior to the start of the trial.


The dispute concerns the Shirley Benson Testamentary Trust, which was formed in 1980 after Tom Benson’s wife, and mother of Renee, died. The trust holds interests in Lone Star Capital Bank, real estate, and Benson’s car dealerships, estimated to be worth about $2.2 billion.


In February 2015, Renee asked that her father be removed as the trustee over the fund because his mental health was on the decline and the trust was actually being managed by Benson’s third wife Gayle and a select few Saints executives. Renee is the trust’s successor and she is insisting her father be deposed if mediation is unsuccessful. The judge has yet to rule on her request.


Just before the end of 2015, Tom offered to resign on the condition Renee not take his place as trustee and instead an independent neutral trustee be appointed because he believes his daughter has “demonstrated ingratitude and hostility” toward him. Renee believes her father is being brainwashed and manipulated by those around him.