Garth Brooks vs. Hospital for Allegedly Dissing Late Mom

Country star sues facility for misusing $500,000 he donated in 2005, which was meant to commemorate his mother

By Rebecca Macatee Jan 18, 2012 9:11 PMTags
Trisha Yearwood, Garth BrooksMichael Loccisano/Getty Images

Anyone who's ever heard a country song knows not to mess with a man's mama—or a man's money.

Which makes it that much worse (ample warning and all) that an Oklahoma hospital allegedly misused the $500,000 Garth Brooks donated in honor of his late mother back in 2005.

Naturally, the 49-year-old country superstar appeared in court today for proceedings surrounding his inevitable lawsuit filed against the facility for a round of he-said, they-said.

The institution at the receiving end of Brooks' lawsuit is the Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon, Okla. The musician claims the donation to his hometown hospital was intended to commemorate his mother, Colleen Brooks, who passed away in 1999. According to Brooks, he was told that either a building or wing built with his donation would be named in his mom's honor.

Unfortunately, that didn't end up being the case and now Brooks is asking for his money back.

As for the hospital, its officials maintain the money as an "unconditional" gift, and a spokesperson confirmed that the donation remained unused and unspent in an IRS-approved account. They claim that naming agreements were not only never agreed to naming rights of any part of the facility in exchange for the donation, but that the money itself "was sent anonymously."

Though not so anonymously that the hospital didn't know who it was from.

"We recognize that Mr. Brooks made a generous yet anonymous and unconditional gift to our facility," Hardy Watkins, the vice president of marketing and communication of the hospital said in a statement prior to court. "We think that when the facts in the case are presented, the public will see that we followed the law and have an obligation to do so with all of our donors."

As for what came out in court today...

"I know you don't have to, but I hope you'll name something for my mother," Brooks purportedly told hospital lawyer Terry Thomas (according, that is, to Thomas).

"It was a simple deal: $500,000 and mom's name is on the women's center," Brooks' lawyer, Lisa Riggs, told the court and its jurors (eight of whom admitted to being Garth fans during questioning) during opening arguments today. "In [Brooks'] words, it was an easy deal to get done."

Brooks said in a statement prior to court Tuesday that he was "stunned and hurt" the hospital failed to honor his late mother with his donation. Though he didn't take the stand today, he was in court for the duration of the proceedings, along with wife Trisha Yearwood.

—Reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum