A federal judge ruled Thursday Tom Benson’s lawsuit seeking to cut his daughter and grandchildren out of ownership in the Saints and Pelicans will continue in New Orleans, Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo denied a motion to dismiss the case filed by a trustee overseeing a group of Benson family trusts.
Benson, 87, wants to remove stock in the teams from trust funds created for his daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, and he has asked the court to force trustee Robert Rosenthal to sign off on the change.
Lawyers representing Rosenthal, a San Antonio lawyer, had argued that the federal court in New Orleans did not have jurisdiction in a case involving trusts and businesses founded in Texas.
“Defendant should have reasonably expected that his position as trustee would necessarily entail ‘continuing and wide-reaching contracts’ with the state of Louisiana,” Milazzo wrote in a 20-page order. “Indeed, Defendant has continued to be connected to the forum state through his administration of the trusts at issue.”
“In addition, it cannot be disputed that Louisiana, the forum state, has a significant interest in litigating the issues presented in this case—namely, the ownership of substantial property within its bounds,” the judge wrote.
Benson owns 40 percent of the Saints, while his heirs’ trusts own 60 percent. The trusts own 95 percent of the Pelicans, with Benson owning only 5 percent — though his portion constitutes all the Pelicans’ voting shares.