UPDATE, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 6:35 p.m.: A hearing on Renee Benson’s request to move her lawsuit against her father from a federal court in Texas to a state probate court in San Antonio has been tentatively set for May 21 at 10 a.m. — Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate
Renee Benson, the estranged daughter of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, has asked a federal court in Texas to move her lawsuit against her father back to a state probate court in San Antonio.
Renee Benson sued her father earlier this year to have him removed as steward of a trust set up for her benefit.
Following a two-day trial in February, Bexar County Probate Court Judge Tom Rickhoff appointed former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and probate attorney Art Bayern as receivers to oversee the trust. Their appointment effectively removed Tom Benson as trustee.
The case was moved to a federal court last month at Tom Benson’s request after the two receivers intervened in the Probate Court case by asking a judge to decide who owns what assets in the various trusts Tom Benson controls or oversees. Benson argued that the receivers overstepped the boundaries of their duties, which include taking an inventory of the assets.
Their lawsuit was dropped a week later, but Tom Benson did not withdraw his request to have the case moved.
Renee Benson’s attorneys argue that her father simply wants a judge who might be more sympathetic than the state judge has been.
“Now, after significant, adverse rulings by the Probate Court, he seeks to change the forum,” they wrote in a court filing.
The lawsuit claims that Tom Benson missed the deadline to move the case to federal court and that the receivers’ intervention in the case cannot form the basis for its removal to federal court.
The filing is part of an ongoing legal battle between Tom and Renee Benson. Tom Benson is attempting to remove various assets, including non-controlling ownership shares in New Orleans’ NFL and NBA franchises, from a group of trusts set up for Renee Benson — a daughter from the first of his three marriages — and her children, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc.
Benson is ultimately seeking to have his heirs removed as inheritors of his business empire in favor of his third wife, Gayle.
The matter is under litigation in state and federal courts in Louisiana and Texas.