CLAREMORE, OKLA. (AP) - An Oklahoma hospital in Garth Brooks‘ hometown must return a $500,000 donation to the country singer because it failed to build a women’s health center in honor of his late mother, jurors ruled Tuesday evening.
Jurors also awarded punitive damages in Brooks‘ breach-of-contract lawsuit against IntegrisCanadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon. Brooks said he thought he’d reached a deal in 2005 with the hospital’s president, James Moore, but sued after learning the hospital wanted to use the money for other construction projects.
Jurors were still deciding late Tuesday how much money to award in punitive damages to Brooks, who was expected to make a public statement after the jury’s decision was announced.
“Obviously we are disappointed, particularly with the jury’s decision to award damages above and beyond the $500,000,” Integris spokesman Hardy Watkins said. “We’re just glad to see the case come to a resolution.”
During the trial, Brooks testified that he thought he had a solid agreement with Moore. Brooks said the hospital president initially suggested putting his mother’s name on an intensive care unit, and when Brooks said that wouldn’t fit her image, Moore suggested a women’s center.
“I jumped all over it,” Brooks told jurors in tearful testimony. “It’s my mom. My mom was pregnant as a teenager. She had a rough start. She wanted to help every kid out there.”
His attorney told the jury during closing arguments that Brooks kept his end of the agreement.
“This case is about promises: promises made and promises broken,” lawyer John Hickey told jurors shortly before they started deliberating. “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.
Before the verdict was read, Brooks said the day had been emotional. The country music star said he was simply trying to honor his mother.
“This little pistol, she deserves nothing but good,” Brooks said.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
What does the middle-class conservative think about everything? Find out here.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc