CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — Lawyers for country singer Garth Brooks told jurors Wednesday that a hospital's internal documents back his claim that a $500,000 donation was intended for a women's center to be named after his late mother.
Brooks wants the Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in his hometown of Yukon to return the money, donated in 2005. He claims in a lawsuit that hospital administrators reneged on their pledge to name a part of a medical complex after Colleen Brooks.
Jurors began hearing testimony in the case Wednesday afternoon.
The singer's lawyers said that, according to minutes recorded in an internal Integris document on the "history and status report of the Garth Brooks solicitation," hospital president James Moore negotiated naming rights with the Brooks family through Garth's father, Troyal Brooks, who also goes by Raymond.
According to the 2005 document, Moore told Brooks' father he'd name the center after Colleen Brooks if the country singer made an appearance at a hospital foundation event.
But Moore testified Wednesday he wrote no such letter to Brooks' father and did not know why it was listed in the document. When pressed on whether he had struck a deal with the family, Moore said, "I categorically deny that."
The women's center wasn't built and the singer never appeared at a foundation event, but Brooks eventually gave the hospital $500,000. Integris lawyer Terry Thomas said the hospital did not initially know where the donation came from, but Brooks later contacted Moore to attach conditions.
"I know you don't have to, but I hope you'll name something for my mother," Brooks said to Moore, 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.
"Some might ask 'Why didn't you give the money back?'" Thomas said in his opening statement Wednesday. "Because it was sent anonymously."
Lisa Riggs, a lawyer for Brooks, told jurors the hospital lured the singer, deliberately and falsely claiming it would build the 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 under questioning by the singer's lawyers that he knew 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.
Colleen Brooks died of cancer in 1999.