Garth Brooks Wins Lawsuit Against Former Employee
Garth Brooks won his lawsuit against a former employee, Lisa Sanderson, over $226,000 that he said was a loan, while she said it was a gift. The jury of four men and three women deliberated for one hour before reaching their verdict.
“The money was handed over,” the jury foreman said (quote via Nashville's Tennessean). “The documents call it a loan. That’s just the way it works.”
Sanderson further alleged that she was owed retirement money for her tenure as CEO of Brooks' former movie and TV production company, Red Strokes, which closed in 2010. The jury rejected that claim as well.
“After 18 years, (Sanderson) should have ensured that there was documentation on that, especially since she has a child," the jury foreman said.
Sanderson maintained that Brooks gave her the money to help with a two-year custody battle with her former husband over their son. Brooks vehemently denied the claim, saying that he went over a repayment plan with his former employee multiple times.
Brooks' attorneys recounted multiple ways the singer helped Sanderson, including a $19,000 plane charter for her to fly to Memphis to see her father after he had a heart attack, as well as three separate gifts of $10,000.
“How did she repay this generosity?” one of Brooks' attorneys, John Haubenreich, questioned. “By filing a lawsuit against him in California, which included a description of Mr. Brooks of being a ‘paranoid, angry, deceitful and vindictive man.’ ”
Sanderson's lawsuit against Brooks -- which claims she is owed close to half a million dollars for unpaid salary and bonuses, plus punitive damages -- is still pending in California. She now owes Brooks the $226,000, plus interest for the past six years, legal fees and collection costs.
US District Court Judge Aleta Trauger, who presided over the case, asked Sanderson if she had the money to pay Brooks. She replied, "Absolutely not."
Brooks had previously requested that her case against him be moved to federal court. A judge denied his request, so the case will be tried in the Los Angeles Superior Court. No date has been announced for that trial.