The lawsuit over the mental fitness of Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson will continue mostly out of public view from here on.
Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ordered the entire case file sealed this week. No more documents submitted to the court in the fight between Benson and his estranged former heirs will be a matter of public record, court spokesman Walt Pierce said Friday.
Pierce said the order is designed to prevent any information about the medical examination that Benson underwent as part of the lawsuit from leaking into public view.
The order doesn’t apply to information that was previously made public, but general access to any more documents filed ahead of a June 1 hearing in the case will be prohibited. A previous order suggested that only information directly pertaining to the results of Benson’s medical exam would be placed under seal.
“It was out of an abundance of caution so that medical information on Mr. Benson is not leaked out,” Pierce said of Reese’s latest order.
Pierce would not discuss how the June 1 hearing will be handled. But it’s not unusual in cases where filings have been sealed that the courtroom is placed off-limits to the public as well, at least for some of the proceedings.
A fierce legal battle involving Benson’s family broke into public view after the 87-year-old billionaire announced in January that he was barring his daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Ryan and Rita LeBlanc from playing any future role in his business empire. Benson’s third wife, Gayle Benson, is now in line to inherit his sports teams and other assets.
In response, Benson’s jilted relatives are trying to have him declared mentally unfit to make business decisions.
Reese ordered Benson to submit to a medical evaluation in February. Three doctors completed their evaluations in March and spent 19 days writing their reports on Benson’s condition.
Reese set the June 1 hearing after receiving those reports.