The lawyer who has so far thwarted Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson’s attempts to cut his estranged relatives out of his business empire continues to argue that Benson hasn’t put up enough cash or other assets to compensate them for being pushed aside.
San Antonio lawyer Robert Rosenthal, who is facing a lawsuit from Benson in federal court in New Orleans, made his argument in a legal filing on Thursday.
Benson’s relatives hold nonvoting shares in the Saints, Pelicans and other businesses through a set of trusts. Benson has proposed replacing those shares with other assets that, by law, must be of equal value.
Rosenthal doesn’t think the assets Benson has proposed — $556 million in promissory notes and some land, among other things — in fact represent equal value.
His filing in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Thursday points out that the promissory notes aren’t fully due until New Year’s Eve 2039. He also said he believes the real value of those notes is “far below face value.”
Rosenthal, who has resigned as trustee of some but not all of the trusts involved, argued at first that Benson’s lawsuit should not even be tried in New Orleans, in part because Rosenthal lives in Texas. But Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sided with Benson, 88, earlier this month.
The struggle over shares of Benson’s various business holdings is now center stage in his dispute with his relatives — daughter Renee Benson and her children, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc — who were cut out of his succession plans earlier this year in favor of Benson’s third wife, Gayle.
Last month, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese sided with Benson in a lawsuit over whether Benson is still mentally fit to make business decisions.