Tom Benson and his family will avoid a federal trial in the legal battle over his ownership of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans.
Benson announced Friday that he and his estranged heirs reached a settlement in the dispute, with terms to remain confidential. Both the NFL and NBA would have to approve the agreement before it will go into effect. Had the case gone to trial, it could have exposed Benson's personal finances, as well as internal financial information about the Saints and Pelicans.
"Operations for all Tom Benson business properties including the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Pelicans, WVUE-FOX 8, automotive dealerships and Benson Tower remain 'business as usual,'" Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said in a statement.
Benson's daughter, Renee Benson, and his grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, were trying to get Benson's wife, Gayle, removed as the legal heir to the Saints and Pelicans when the 88-year-old Benson dies. Benson had disowned his familial heirs, who had portrayed 67-year-old Gayle Benson as an opportunistic gold digger after marrying her father in 2004 a year after his previous wife, Grace, died of Parkinson's disease.
Trustees Mary Rowe and Robert Rosenthal, both San Antonio attorneys, said in a statement, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune, they're "pleased that an agreement has been reached and that these important issues are close to an amicable resolution."
"As trustees, our objectives all along have been to protect the integrity of the trusts and to reassure the public that the Saints and Pelicans will continue to call New Orleans home," the statement continued. "We look forward to memorializing a final agreement in consultation with the leagues."