NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson released a statement Thursday night following a lawsuit filed against him by his daughter, Renee Leblanc, and grandchildren, Rita and Ryan Leblanc.
"I am extremely disappointed by the lawsuit filed against me today by my daughter and two grandchildren," Tom Benson said in the statement. "Their allegations regarding my mental health are completely meritless and their allegations against my wife equally unfounded. I will vigorously defend my decisions and the businesses I have built. The false accusations in this suit further support the actions I have taken in changing the succession and transfer of ownership. There is a small sign that sits on my desk and simply states "Tough times never last; but tough people do." Make no mistake, I will be back in the office tomorrow morning working hard, as I do every day, to ensure that the Saints and Pelicans are positioned for long-term success. This State, City and our great fans deserve that. I have instructed my staff to have no comment on this lawsuit moving forward."
Tom Benson previously stated that 60% controlling interest would go to Renee, while the other 40% would be split between Rita and Ryan.
On Dec. 27, Benson allegedly wrote the following letter:
"During the over 80 years of my life, I have built a rather large estate which was intended to mainly be for you all as my family. Suddenly after I remarried you all became offensive and did not act in an appropriate manner and even had arguments among yourselves which created a very unpleasant family situation which I will not stand for. It made me very unhappy and uncomfortable. This situation cannot continue at my age. Because of the facts set out above and the heartbreak you have caused me I want no further contact with any of you and you will not be allowed to enter the Saint's facilities or games or Pelicans games. Sincerely yours, your father and grandfather, Tom Benson"
Three days after Tom Benson allegedly wrote this letter, Rita Leblanc received another letter that stated her termination of employment with the Saints.
On Wed., Jan. 21, Tom Benson announced that his wife of 10 years, Gayle Benson, would take over the Saints and Pelicans franchises after his death. That's when his daughter and grandchildren decided to file the 27-page lawsuit.