The team of doctors examining Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson as part of a lawsuit filed against him by his estranged relatives will finish their work by Friday, a New Orleans Civil District Court spokesman said Thursday.
However, it could be weeks before they deliver their written findings to Judge Kern Reese, court spokesman Walt Pierce said.
Reese had said he would like to get the reports by Friday, but Pierce later said that was only a tentative deadline.
Pierce said that once Reese has the exam results in hand, he will call lawyers from both sides of the case to a private status conference, where the parties will select a date for a public court hearing. Pierce said that hearing is probably at least several weeks away.
It’s possible Reese will allow oral arguments or issue a decision pertaining to Benson’s evaluation at the hearing, but that isn’t clear.
Reese on Feb. 10 ordered Benson to undergo an examination by three doctors — one chosen by Benson’s side, one picked by his relatives and a third selected by the other two physicians. He set a deadline of March 13 for the exams.
Last week, Reese ordered that any information provided for, or discovered by, Benson’s examination should be kept confidential. Lawyers on both sides of the dispute agreed to the order, meant to protect Benson’s medical privacy.
A family feud involving Benson became headline news after the billionaire announced he wanted to bar his daughter, Renee Benson, and her children, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc, from any future role with his sports franchises and other businesses. Benson had once designated Renee, a daughter from his first marriage, and his grandchildren to be the primary inheritors of his businesses when he died, but in January, he revealed he wanted his third wife, Gayle, to eventually assume the reins of his various properties in Louisiana and Texas.
Part of the response from Renee, Rita and Ryan was to file a suit seeking to have the 87-year-old Benson declared mentally unfit to make such drastic business decisions. The rift between Benson and his relatives has since prompted legal maneuvering in various courtrooms in New Orleans and San Antonio.
In the lawsuit involving Benson’s mental evaluation, his relatives argue that he is being manipulated as his mental and physical health declines.
Benson insists that he is making clear-headed decisions and has concluded that his legacy will be better off in the hands of Gayle Benson.