Brooks says verbal agreement should have been enough

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CLAREMORE, Okla. — In exchange for a 2005 donation to the Integris hospital in Yukon, Garth Brooks wanted his mom's name to be attached to the hospital's proposed new women's center, and he wanted that name to be as big as the Hollywood sign in L.A.

That's what Brooks' attorney said the country superstar told the hospital's CEO, James Moore, during a lunch in 2005.

Moore took the witness stand Wednesday in Claremore and admitted he did not mention to Brooks that a new center would not be built anytime soon.

“I think it's bad for both sides,” Brooks said. “To tell you the truth, I think both sides are sad because I think when we started out, this was a great idea.  It's still a fantastic idea. Just something went wrong somewhere.”  

But an Integris spokesman says while they tried to honor Brooks' mother, Colleen, by offering several naming proposals, Brooks never signed off on an official agreement.

“Before you can sort of take the shovel and start to dig, you have to have an agreement so that you honor your donor’s expectations. We have that responsibility with all of our donors,” Hardy Watkins said, VP of Marketing and Communications for Integris Health. 

“Mr. Brooks does many handshake deals of larger sizes than this,” John Hickey said, lead attorney for Brooks. “He doesn't need it in writing. He's a man of his word and that's basically what he counted on in this case.”

Hickey pointed out that after Brooks' $500,000 donation was sent to the hospital in 2005, Moore tried to get brooks to donate $15 million to have the entire hospital named after his mom, who died from cancer in 1999.

Brooks declined the offer.   

Moore eventually informed Brooks that his original donation was designated as unrestricted.

“This is about the hospital's solicitation of a donation using his mom as 'the hook,' if you will, to get him to donate money,” Hickey said.

“It was our belief that through conversations, we would be able to come to some solution and the community would be proud and Integris Health and hospital would be better for the effort,” Watkins said.

Testimony will continue Thursday morning at the Rogers County Courthouse.