(Photo : REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
Garth Brooks singing "The Dance"
He says the $226,000 was a loan; Lisa A. Sanderson says it was a gift. Now the courts will have to decide.
Garth Brooks and a longtime former employee will be headed to U.S. District Court in Nashville on Tuesday. According to The Tennessean, Brooks says that the amount is for repayment of a "long-overdue loan" he made to the CEO of his movie and television production company, Red Strokes Inc. Sanderson says the money was a gift. She also says that as a producing partner in the enterprise, she is "entitled to a production fee and a severance or retirement payment" from Red Strokes.
Red Strokes says that no money is owed to Sanderson and they are suing for repayment of the funds in addition to interest, attorney’s fees and the costs of collection.
According to the lawsuit, the money went from Brooks to Sanderson’s lawyers through Red Strokes between 2005 and 2007.
Well over 100 documents have been filed in conjunction with the case, but most of them have been sealed. However, one memo that has been released shows Sanderson calling their relationship an "extremely close personal friendship" where she considered Brooks to be "a brother."
The $226k that Sanderson calls a gift was money she says was used to help her with a custody dispute over her son, Benjamin. The two year legal battle was something she was unsure she could afford. A document prepared by her attorney states that, "Mr. Brooks stated in numerous occasions that he too was deeply concerned about Sanderson’s son’s welfare, and for that reason he wanted to take care of any legal fees Sanderson incurred in connection with the custody dispute. Mr. Brooks reassured Sanderson over and over again that 'it was all about Ben' and that Sanderson would never have to repay him for the legal fees."
In a countersuit filed in April of 2013, Sanderson filed a lawsuit against Brooks and Red Strokes in the Superior Court for California. In that suit, she alleged that Brooks promised to pay her half of the profits from the production deals she brokered for him as well as a $250,000 bonus for "loyalty and years of service." She stated that she "never received a dime of her fifty percent share of the producer fee" and stopped receiving compensation from Red Strokes in May 2011. Alleging fraud, breach of oral agreement, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the California Labor Code section that requires an employer to make good on all due wages and bonuses when an individual's employment is terminated, Sanderson was seeking $425,000, plus other damages.
With the suit against Sanderson taking three years to get to court, it will probably be 2016 before the suit against Brooks makes it before a judge.