The parties in the federal lawsuit pitting Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson against the officials overseeing a group of trust funds benefiting his estranged relatives want until October to finalize details of a settlement announced earlier this summer. But the judge handling the case has not immediately granted that request, instead setting a conference on the matter for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Benson agreed in June to settle a federal lawsuit in which he was seeking to recover nonvoting shares in New Orleans' NFL and NBA franchises as well as other business assets that he had placed in trusts whose beneficiaries are his daughter, Renee, and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc.

Benson is no longer on speaking terms with his daughter or her children, and he has said he does not want them to have any further role in any of his businesses.

At the time the agreement was first announced in June, the terms had not been finalized. U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo first ordered the parties to get that done by July 20, a month after the trial in the case had been scheduled to start. She later agreed to push that deadline back until Friday.

On Thursday, both sides asked to be given an extra 45 days, or until Oct. 3, court records show.

"The parties have continued to actively work toward" finalizing the agreement, the two sides' request said. "However, despite the parties' diligent efforts, and due to the unforeseen complexity of the issues, the documents called for ... have not yet been finalized or executed."

The two sides said they were willing to speak with Milazzo further "if that would be of value." She indicated Friday that it would.

The settlement's basic terms have been kept confidential, meaning it is unclear how much of the Saints and Pelicans stock at the center of the case will still be in the trust funds in question once the agreement is finalized.

If the two sides can't reach agreement, Milazzo could set a new date for a trial.

The twice-widowed Benson's dispute with the trustees is part of a wider feud with Renee and her children. He once intended to leave control of his billion-dollar business empire to them, but he announced early last year that he wants his third wife, Gayle Benson, to inherit control of all his properties after his death.

A complex legal battle surrounding Benson's decision to alter his succession plans followed.

Aside from the case in Milazzo's courtroom, Renee, Rita and Ryan unsuccessfully challenged the 89-year-old Benson's mental competency to handle his business affairs.

In another case, Renee Benson and her father agreed that she would assume control of a family trust fund established in Texas before he purchased the Saints and the Pelicans.


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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