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Judge Denies Change of Venue in Garth Brooks Lawsuit

Garth Brooks
Erika Goldring, Getty Images

A judge has denied Garth Brooks‘ request for a change of venue in a lawsuit filed by a former business associate.

Lisa Sanderson filed suit against the singer in April, seeking nearly half a million dollars in unpaid salary and bonuses. After working with Brooks for nearly 20 years, she claims he failed to pay her salary and severance she was due, and also accused him of tax fraud.

Sanderson contends she was a successful TV producer when Brooks latched onto her at the height of his musical success, in an effort to start an acting career for himself. She served the Chief Executive Officer of Red Strokes Entertainment, a film and television company that Brooks founded that was named for his song ‘The Red Strokes,’ on which Sanderson was a co-writer and publisher. According to her bio page on TNT.com, the pair were once slated to produce ‘The Lamb’ for Paramount Pictures, and had a number of projects in development for various television entities.

But Sanderson claims the singer’s rampant egomania scuttled one great opportunity after another — including deals with Disney and Fox — after he made outrageous demands. She alleges Brooks turned down a role in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ because “he wanted to be the star and was unwilling to share the limelight with … Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Edward Burns.” He allegedly turned down a role in ‘Twister’ because he didn’t want to play second to a tornado.

Red Strokes Entertainment wound down in 2011, after which the company filed a lawsuit against Sanderson in Tennessee, seeking to recoup loans the company allegedly made to her that totaled close to $225,000. Sanderson’s response to that suit claimed that those sums had been gifts, not loans, and that she was still owed for production fees and a retirement package.

In her own filing, Sanderson says Brooks has created a public persona as “a humble and highly principled ‘everyman,’” but she claims it’s just a disguise for a person she calls a “paranoid, angry, deceitful and vindictive man who will turn against those closest to him on a dime.” She is asking for $425,000 in unpaid bonus and salary, and unspecified punitive damages.

According to Radar Online, Brooks sought to have the suit moved to federal court. But in a ruling last month, a judge decided the case should be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court, where it was filed.

Brooks has not commented publicly on the lawsuit.

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