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Garth Brooks Wins $226K Lawsuit Against Former Employee

Garth Brooks
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

A jury decided that the money Garth Brooks gave to longtime Red Strokes Entertainment CEO Lisa Sanderson was a loan, meaning she’ll need to repay $226,000 to the singer.

After Thursday’s verdict was read, Sanderson said she did “absolutely not” have the money to repay him.

The sum includes interest from the last six years, legal fees and collection costs, according to the Tennessean. Sanderson relied on a verbal agreement she said she made with Brooks, but documents backed up his claim that he expected repayment.

“The money was handed over, the documents call it a loan. That’s just the way it works,” the jury’s foreman said in explaining the seven-person group’s decision. They also denied Sanderson’s claim for retirement benefits after Red Strokes (Brooks’ television and movie production company) closed in 2010. Again, she had no legal documentation.

Many emails and letters passed between the parties referred to the money as a loan, and the singer himself testified that he went into great detail about a repayment plan.

A pre-trial memorandum prepared by Sanderson’s lawyers stated that Brooks was so concerned about her son’s welfare that he agreed she would never need to repay him. His attorneys conceded to handing her generous gifts in the past, including three separate gifts at $10,000 and one charter flight to Memphis (valued at $19,000) after her father suffered a heart attack.

The case was decided before U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger in Nashville.

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