The parties involved in the Texas trust fund battle pitting Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson against his daughter announced last month that the dispute had been settled, but nothing explaining the nature of the agreement has yet been submitted to the presiding judge, an official involved with the case said Monday.
As a result, San Antonio Probate Court Judge Tom Rickhoff on Monday ordered attorneys in the dispute to submit such papers to him by Feb. 12 if they don’t want to be required either to proceed to trial or else to turn over long-term control of the trust fund to two court-appointed overseers, the official said.
Benson attorney Phil Wittmann said he didn’t anticipate there would be any problems in giving Rickhoff written confirmation that a settlement has been reached.
Benson’s daughter Renee, the beneficiary of the trust fund, sued for control of it last year about the same time her father revealed he had decided to cut her and her children out of his business empire.
Rickhoff later temporarily suspended Tom Benson as overseer of the trust, appointing two receivers to manage it until the case’s resolution.
The two sides agreed to a settlement on Jan. 22, three days before Tom Benson was due to subject himself to questioning by attorneys for Renee Benson, who has questioned her father’s mental competency in a separate lawsuit now pending before a Louisiana state appellate court.
Terms of the settlement are confidential.
Rickhoff on Monday asked attorneys on each side whether they had agreed on a new overseer for the trust, but neither camp was willing to say, one of the receivers, Phil Hardberger, said later.
According to Hardberger, each side insisted they have reached a settlement, but Rickhoff said he needed written confirmation, even if it kept some of the terms secret.
If that document isn’t in by the end of next week, Rickhoff said, he could order the case to go to trial or assign control of the trust to San Antonio attorneys Joe Frazier Brown and Roy Barrera Jr., Hardberger said.
Brown and Barrera would be directed to manage the trust as they saw fit, unlike Hardberger and co-receiver Art Bayern, who were mainly tasked with preserving the fund’s status quo.
The trust was established to benefit Renee Benson, with her father as its administrator. It was created by Renee’s mother and Tom Benson’s first wife, Shirley Benson, who died in 1980.
The trust has shares in a family-owned bank as well as car dealerships and real estate. It does not have any shares in Benson’s sports teams.