CMT News

Brooks Named in Discrimination Lawsuit
A Washington state woman has named Garth Brooks in a discrimination lawsuit over concert seating at a July 1998 show at Seattle's Key Arena. Joanne Lawrence claims Brooks and the arena saved seats in the first two rows for attractive, young women. Lawrence, who is in a wheelchair, was seated in the handicapped section designated by the arena, said Rusty Jones, Brooks' Nashville-based attorney. "Artists rely on the venue to comply with ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] regulations," Jones told country.com. "Unfortunately, this lady has sued the wrong people." Lawrence's claim stems from Brooks' longstanding practice of holding back tickets for the first two rows to thwart scalpers and give the seats to die-hard fans in the nosebleed sections. The singer's band and crew members traditionally hand out the tickets before the show. "They go out early when the doors open to find the people who are really excited to be there but are in the worst seats," Karen Byrd, Brooks' publicist, told country.com. "We try to keep groups together and find excited people, but looks have absolutely nothing to do with it. I've [handed out tickets] before, and it has nothing to do with how they look." A summary judgment hearing is set for Friday in Seattle. Jones said his firm has hired local counsel to represent Brooks at the proceeding, during which they'll ask the judge to remove Brooks and the promoter, Ft. Worth TEG, Inc., from the suit. "Garth has always been an advocate of the rights of the disabled," Jones said. "We are all surprised this lady would do this. We clearly are not the bad guys, so we're scratching our heads over this one."
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