A federal jury in Nashville has declared that the more than $223,000 Garth Brooks provided a business associate for her divorce and child custody expenses was a loan, as Brooks maintained, and not a gift.
As reported in The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper, the jury made its decision within an hour of deliberation Thursday (Feb. 13) at the end of a three-day trial in U.S. District Court.
Lisa Sanderson, who headed the Los Angeles office of Brooks’ Red Strokes Entertainment, a movie and TV production company, was dispensed the money in several payments between 2005 and 2007.
Because it was an unprofitable undertaking for most of its 18-year existence, Brooks decided to close Red Strokes as an active unit in 2010.
The first half of the trial was given over to presenting emails and testimony from Brooks’ business manager, Cheryl Harris, that undergirded the singer’s assertion that the money he provided Sanderson had always and clearly been characterized as a loan.
Various emails spelled out loan repayment schedules, and Harris pointed out that had Brooks given the money as a gift, he would have been obligated to specify it as such on his tax returns.
Sanderson’s lawyer argued that the email documentation and Harris’ testimony were only part of the story and did not take into account all the communications made between the two antagonists.
Questioned by Brooks’ lawyer, Harris testified that Brooks had been generous with Sanderson, from chartering a plane at his own expense for her to visit her ailing father to allowing her and her assistant to keep their computers after the Red Strokes office was closed.
The jury’s decision means that Sanderson is charged with paying the original loan, with interest, as well as court costs and Brooks’ legal expenses for the trial.