Hospital's email discusses Garth Brooks asking for his money back
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2012
1/19/12 at 6:53 PM
CLAREMORE — More than three years after Garth Brooks donated $500,000 to a hospital in Yukon to honor his late mother, an Integris executive gave pause to Brooks’ request to have the money returned, testimony at a Rogers County civil trial showed Thursday.
Brooks, 49, sued Integris Rural Health Inc., in 2009, alleging it backed off a promise to name a proposed women’s health center at a Yukon hospital after his mother, Colleen Brooks, in exchange for the country music star’s $500,000 donation. She died of cancer in 1999.
James Moore, president and CEO of Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon, talked about Brooks asking for his money back in an email to staffers in March 2009, testimony indicated.
Brooks, who lives in Rogers County, donated the money anonymously in late December 2005, and Integris confirmed it was his gift shortly afterward. To date, no new women’s health center has been built with the money, which has not been spent, Moore testified.
“... We may not deny Garth access to the money, however, we can sure as hell make him work to get it ...” the March 2009 email read. The memo went on to say that Moore found it “strange” that Garth or anyone who’s given $500,000 has refused to set foot in the building for a personal tour.
Moore reiterated in his second day of testimony Thursday that the donation was unrestricted and that no naming rights connecting the $500,000 and the proposed women’s center were ever agreed upon, though Moore testified he did promise him he would do something to honor his mother.
Defense attorney Terry Thomas exhibited an email to jurors showing a September 2008 correspondence from Brooks to Moore. In it, Brooks said, “... I’m not sure what our understanding is,” but “... we have to come to some agreement ...”
Brooks called Moore early in 2009, saying some investments hadn’t panned out and asking Integris to return the money, Moore testified. Brooks said at that time that he wanted to pursue something to honor his mother and father, Moore testified.
In a letter to Moore from Brooks’ attorney Russell Jones Jr., Jones said he understood that certain recognition would be given to honor Brooks’ mother in return for the $500,000 gift, Moore told jurors. Jones then asked for the donation to be transferred to the “Teammates for Kids Foundation,” a charity in Colorado.
Two other witnesses testified Thursday, Connie McFarland, an architect who worked on the master facility plan for the hospital and Cheryl Harris, a Nashville, Tenn., accountant employed by Brooks since 1989.
On how Brooks felt about the $500,000 gift and its purported purpose, Harris said, “It was obvious how much he loved her and how much he cared for her. You could hear the joy in his voice. He was very pleased that she was going to be honored.”
She added that the majority of his gifts are anonymous. “There’s going to be someone at the charity who’s aware of the donation,” she said.
McFarland testified about a meeting she had with Moore on July 1, 2005. In a memo about that, Moore reported that discussed with Brooks and his father, Ray, was a $3 million donation in exchange for possibly naming the new women’s center after Colleen Brooks, McFarland testified.
Moore reported in the memo that there was an “urgency” in that Garth’s father wanted to see Colleen’s name on the women’s center while Ray was still living, McFarland told jurors.
Garth Brooks is among the witnesses scheduled to testify in the trial, which resumes Friday.
Garth Brooks rubs his brow while talking to reporters after a day of testimony in a breach-of-promise trial at the Rogers County Courthouse Thursday in Claremore. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood (right) leave the Rogers County Courthouse after a day of testimony in a breach-of-promise trial Thursday in Claremore. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Garth Brooks looks over fan Wayne Ping's guitar before signing it after a day of court testimony at the Rogers County Courthouse Thursday in Claremore. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
James Moore, president and CEO of Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital, leaves the the Rogers County Courthouse during a lunch recess in Claremore on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Garth Brooks signs an autograph for Veta Underwood during a break in a civil trial at the Rogers County Courthouse in Claremore on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Garth Brooks (left) and Trisha Yearwood (right) pose for photos with Shawna Alston during a break in a civil trial at the Rogers County Courthouse Thursday in Claremore. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Country music star Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood (left) arrive at the Rogers County Courthouse in Claremore on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World