Lawyers Agree To Mediation In Tom Benson Family Feud

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and trustees for his estranged daughter and grandchildren have agreed to mediation in Benson's lawsuit, which aims to take back stock in the teams and oust the family members as non-voting owners of the NFL and NBA teams.

         The suit is scheduled for trial next June. Judge Jane Triche Milazzo held a hearing Tuesday about whether Benson can change irrevocable trusts set up for Renee Benson and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc.

         A docket entry dated Tuesday and made public late Thursday afternoon states that attorneys for Benson and the Texas lawyers in charge of the trusts had agreed to mediation.

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         Thomas Flanagan, attorney for trustee Mary Rowe, declined to comment. Attorneys for Benson and trustee Robert Rosenthal did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

         Benson, 88, wants his current wife, Gayle Benson, to inherit complete ownership of the teams.

         He said in January that he was removing his daughter and grandchildren from his succession plan for the clubs to ensure their long-term stability.

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         He has tried to replace the stock in their trusts with hundreds of millions of dollars in 25-year promissory notes, $94 million in debt forgiveness and some real estate, saying they were equal in value to the stock.

         Rowe and Rosenthal rejected the promissory notes, saying accepting them would be lending money to Benson against the best interest of his daughter and grandchildren.

         – by AP Reporter Janet McConnaughey

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