Hospital says Brooks' gift came without obligation
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — Lawyers for Garth Brooks and an Oklahoma hospital clashed Wednesday over whether the facility promised to name a women's center in honor of the country star's late mother after he made a $500,000 donation.
Brooks wants the Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in his hometown of Yukon to return the money, claiming in a lawsuit that hospital administrators reneged on their pledge to name a part of a medical complex after Colleen Brooks. Jurors began hearing arguments in the case Wednesday.
"Some might ask 'Why didn't you give the money back?' hospital lawyer Terry Thomas said. "Because it was sent anonymously."
According to Thomas, Brooks and hospital president James Moore never reached a naming rights agreement and that, after the $500,000 gift arrived, Brooks telephoned Moore to say it was from him and to add conditions for its use.
"I know you don't have to, but I hope you'll name something for my mother," Brooks said, according to Thomas.
Thomas told the lawyers that the hospital agreed to nothing, and even sent Brooks a receipt telling him he had received nothing of value for his contribution.
But the singer's lawyer, Lisa Riggs, told jurors the hospital had lured Brooks. She said the hospital deliberately and falsely claimed it would build a women's center and display Colleen Brooks' name "like the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles."
"This is not what Garth Brooks had bargained for," Riggs said. "Over six years after the donation, nothing is named after Colleen Brooks.
"It was a simple deal: $500,000 and mom's name is on the women's center," Riggs told jurors. "In (Brooks') words, it was an easy deal to get done."
Moore, the trial's first witness, said construction of a women's center has not started. Under questioning by the singer's lawyers, he said a women's center would be more appealing to Brooks than having his mother's name on an intensive care unit.
"We knew he was very passionate about his mom and we were passionate about women's issues," Moore said.
Brooks attended the trial with his wife, country singer Trisha Yearwood. The couple lives near Owasso, a Tulsa suburb, about 130 miles northeast of Yukon.