CLAREMORE, OKLA. (AP) - Garth Brooks‘ lawyer told jurors Tuesday that the country singer kept his promise by donating $500,000 to his hometown hospital, but that the Oklahoma hospital broke its pledge to honor Brooks‘ late mother by building a women’s health center.
“This case is about promises: promises made and promises broken,” lawyer John Hickey told jurors shortly before they started deliberating Brooks‘ breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon.
“Mr. Brooks kept his promise. Integris never intended to keep their promise and never built a new women’s center.”
But hospital attorney Terry Thomas said Brooks‘ gift initially came in anonymously and unrestricted in 2005. He also noted that Brooks couldn’t remember key details of negotiations with the hospital’s president _ including what he’d been promised _ when questioned during a deposition after filing his lawsuit in 2009.
“At most, it was a misunderstanding between these two,” Thomas told jurors during his closing argument. “Am I calling Mr. Brooks a liar? Absolutely not. It’s perfectly understandable that he does not remember these events.”
The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon in Rogers County District Court, and the judge told jurors she wanted them to work as late as midnight to come to a decision.
“This little pistol, she deserves nothing but good,” Brooks said.
During closing arguments, Hickey accused the state’s largest hospital chain of engaging in a “scheme” to lure Brooks into a fundraising campaign and “using his mom as bait.” He told jurors they had the ability to make things right.
He also dismissed the hospital’s claim that the donation was unrestricted, saying if that were the case, the money would have already been spent.
Thomas questioned the singer’s memory. During the trial, Brooks testified that he believed he had a specific deal with hospital President James Moore in 2005. But in a deposition years later, he couldn’t remember what he had been promised, Thomas said.
According to testimony, Brooks and hospital officials discussed several options, including a $15 million gift that would see the entire Yukon hospital named after his mother.
Brooks said that he eventually agreed to a $500,000 gift toward a new women’s health center, a suggestion from Moore.
“I jumped all over it,” Brooks told jurors Friday. “It’s my mom. My mom was pregnant as a teenager. She had a rough start. She wanted to help every kid out there.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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