Opening Statements Begin Wednesday In Garth Brooks Lawsuit

Tuesday, January 17th 2012, 2:56 pm
By: News On 6

Jury selection got underway Tuesday afternoon in a Rogers County courtroom in Claremore in a lawsuit filed by Garth Brooks against a Yukon hospital in 2009.

Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, were in the courtroom Tuesday.

12/17/2009 Related Story: Court Documents Reveal New Details In Garth Brooks Lawsuit

The attorneys spent a lot of time asking the jurors if they were Garth Brooks fans, if they owned his CDs or had been to his concerts.

One attorney said Brooks is one of the biggest country music superstars who ever lived and the attorney wants the jurors to be fair for both sides.

The attorneys even asked if the fact he was married to another superstar would influence them, and they all said no.

They started with 18 people. One man was excused because of a job interview scheduled for Thursday.

01/13/2012 Related Story: Garth Brooks' Lawsuit Over $500,000 Hospital Donation Goes To Trial

Garth Brooks was born in Tulsa in 1962, the youngest of six kids. The family moved to Yukon when he was four.

On his website, he describes his father, the former Marine, as the realist of the family, the one who was detail oriented. He describes his mother as the one who was always encouraging and supportive.

When his mother was going through months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries, Brooks recorded "It's your song" in her honor. She lost her fight with cancer at the age of 70 in 1999.

Court documents say in 2003 or 2004, Brooks' father was approached by Integris about a donation in her honor.

The lawsuit says during the next two years, Garth Brooks and Integris had a number of meetings where they showed him mockups of hospital buildings.

The suit claims the mockups had Colleen Brooks' name in neon lights and that they even discussed unveiling the Colleen Brooks' women's center during a public ribbon cutting ceremony.

Brooks donated $500,000 in late 2005. Documents say in September of 2008, Integris informed Brooks the donation would be used for what it had earmarked and no building was ever named for her.

Hardy Watkins with Integris said the following:

"From our perspective, the gift was very generous and an appropriate way to honor his mother. Once all the facts are presented, we believe people will see we followed the law as to receiving anonymous gifts with no strings attached. We have worked to offer ideas that would be appropriate at many levels but a formal agreement was not reached, so we couldn't move forward with any specific plans. The donation still sits in the foundation's account and has not been spent. Mr. Brooks is a great ambassador and a talented musician but we had to follow the law as regards to the IRS and best donor practices, as we would with any donor."

Once jury selection wraps up, opening statements will begin and then witnesses will be called to the stand. Garth Brooks is expected to testify.

One of the lawyers said this case isn't like the dramas on TV, no DNA or bloody fingerprints, just documents and testimony. It could go to the jury Friday or early next week.