An Oklahoma hospital has been ordered to pay $1 million to country singer Garth Brooks after failing to build a women's health center in honor of his late mother.
The details of the case were laid out in a story that originally appeared in the previous edition of NPT Weekly. Brooks donated $500,000 to Yukon, Okla.-based Integris Canadian Valley Region Hospital with the understanding that the gift would help fund a women's health center named after his mother, Colleen Brooks, who died in 1999. He filed a suit against the hospital after the center had been built without his mother's name attached. The jury ruled in favor of Brooks on Jan. 24, awarding him his original donation plus an additional $500,000 in punitive damages. A spokesperson for Integris said that the hospital does not expect to have to cut any services or programs in light of the settlement, as the money will not come from their operating budget.
This case shows the importance of the donor having a written agreement with the nonprofit when making a major gift. Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a nonprofit attorney at Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., told NPT that it's uncommon to have only a verbal agreement with the client. Said Tenenbaum: “This case is the perfect example of why verbal commitments do not work out.”
Tenenbaum goes on to say that the written agreement should lay out the dollar amount that will be paid, whether or not the contract is enforceable, and provide contingencies if the original purpose of the contribution cannot be fulfilled. While the case ultimately worked out in Brooks' favor, these steps are highly advisable to prevent legal issues like this from happening.
You can read the full story in The NonProfit Times.