YUKON, Oklahoma -- Meetings between Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital officials and the legal team for Garth Brooks are taking place this week after the country superstar filed a lawsuit against the hospital.
Yukon city manager James Crosby said he believes the two parties will be able to resolve the dispute amicably and calls the entire situation a misunderstanding.
"He is our favorite son and we appreciate everything he has done. Communication should be the easiest thing in the world to happen but it's very hard," said Crosby, who also sits on the hospital board.
Brooks is suing Integris over a $500,000 donation he made to the hospital in 2005. The lawsuit states the donation was given with the intention that Integris would name a building after the star's late mother Colleen Brooks, including promises of placing his mother's name in neon lights and a ribbon-cutting ceremony introducing the new Colleen Brooks building to the public
The hospital in turn said the money was an "anonymous and unconditional" gift and that the singer is attempting to add conditions to the gift after it was given.
In the petition document, the Tulsa law firm of Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis alleges the hospital is guilty of four counts: breach of contract, revocation of gift/constructive trust, fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation/constructive fraud.
In the plaintiff's presentation of the lawsuit Troyal Garth Brooks' attorney states that Integris initially contacted the country singer through his father, Ray Brooks. The hospital, located in the singer's hometown, solicited a donation to honor Brooks' late mother Colleen.
"For almost two years, Integris courted Brooks seeking a substantial donation, all the while promising that in exchange for the donation a building in the hospital would be named after Colleen Brooks," the document states.
"Representatives of Integris met with Brooks on numerous occasions. At most of the meetings Integris representatives would present Brooks with mock-ups of hospital buildings bearing Colleen Brooks' name in neon lights."
The documents assert that Integris "represented their intention" that the opening of the hospital building would be presented to the public during a ribbon-cutting ceremony."
Almost three years after the donation was made in 2005, Brooks' attorneys claim the hospital informed the singer that his donation would be "used for what Integris had 'earmarked' the money for without further discussion.'"
Brooks is asking for the money to be placed into a constructive trust allowing Brooks to revoke the conditional gift. He is also asking for return of the donation, punitive damages, costs and attorney fees and "any such other relief the Court deems just and equitable."
Integris Rural Health, Inc., the parent company of the Canadian Valley Regional Hospital, agrees with the petition's claims – to a point. The hospital's attorneys, Crowe & Dunlevy P.C., answered Brooks' petition by stating representatives met with Brooks, presented a mock-up of a hospital building bearing Colleen Brooks' name – though not in neon.
Though they agree they discussed "possibilities for publicizing Plaintiff's donation," they deny voicing an intention for a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the building was presented to the public.
The hospital's asserts that Brooks made an anonymous and unconditional donation and that he is attempting to "add conditions to the gift after the gift is made and accepted."
The hospital also asserts that Brooks was not timely in making his claims and has made them in an inappropriate venue – Rogers County. Its answer also claims that Brooks has not suffered any damages except as a result of his actions or those of a third party.
Integris asks the court to decide in its favor or dismiss the petition entirely. It also requests that its fees and expenses be awarded.
News of the lawsuit sparked a heated response from councilman John Tipps. Tipps was quoted in the Yukon Review as saying, "Maybe Yukon should consider removing his name from the street signs and the water tower."
Crosby said the comment was an overreaction.
"I think everyone regrets remarks made that shouldn't have been made," Crosby said.
Crosby said the hospital board has always had the intention of naming part of it after Colleen Brooks but the message was lost since most conversations were not with Brooks himself.
"When you negotiate with intermediaries sometimes communication is not always accurate and I think that's one thing that has happened," Crosby said.