Actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow is in the spotlight this week as she appears in court for a civil lawsuit regarding a 2016 skiing incident.
Paltrow, 50, has been accused of causing serious injury to retired optometrist Terry Sanderson after she allegedly collided with him while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
Sanderson, 76, alleged Paltrow skied into him, “knocking him down hard, knocking him out.” He claimed the collision caused “permanent traumatic brain injury, 4 broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life.” He maintains that Paltrow left him collapsed on the slope and skied away. He is suing Paltrow for more than US$300,000.
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Paltrow denies any responsibility for the crash and is countersuing for $1 and lawyers’ fees. She claims Sanderson is the one who hit her and is now suing to “exploit her celebrity and wealth.”
The trial is being livestreamed by multiple outlets. Both parties have agreed the trial will last eight days.
Paltrow and Sanderson are expected to testify on Friday.
Paltrow brings ‘treats for the bailiffs’
On Thursday, the Goop founder brought “treats” for the law enforcement officers in the courtroom. Before testimony of the day began, Paltrow’s lawyer, Steve Owens, introduced the goodies.
“Private security for my client wanted to bring in treats for the bailiffs for how helpful they’ve been,” Owens told the judge. “So, I wanted to do that transparently and see if there are any objections.”
Sanderson’s lawyer, Lawrence Buhler, objected to the abnormal request.
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Judge Kent Holmberg barred Paltrow and her people from distributing the treats in the courtroom.
“OK, there’s an objection so thank you, but no thank you,” Holmberg said, noting either party could take the treats later if they decided to do so.
It is not clear what kind of treats Paltrow was offering.
Media coverage and cameras in the courtroom
Paltrow and her lawyers have been clearly upset with the amount of media coverage surrounding the civil trial. On Wednesday, the second day in court, Owens argued that a camera with a live video feed should not be pointed at Paltrow and her council table, as per alleged decorum agreements.
“We have a new camera pointed directly at my client, right there, on the right,” Owens told the judge.
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Paltrow removed her glasses and remained stoic. Owens said photographers had also swarmed Paltrow at her car outside the courtroom the day prior.
Holmberg recognized the camera “as a problem” and said the court would investigate the request to divert the view and adjust proceedings accordingly. Holmberg did not make a ruling on photography outside of the courtroom.
Paltrow argues Sanderson’s injuries are exaggerated
Paltrow and her lawyers have claimed Sanderson is exaggerating his “traumatic” injuries to capitalize on Paltrow’s celebrity and status.
Psycho-neurologist Dr. Alina Fong, who is Sanderson’s witness, testified on Thursday that Sanderson was diagnosed with persistent post-concussive symptoms (PCS) after the ski incident. All of Sanderson’s medical witnesses have testified his injuries are consistent with someone crashing into him from behind.
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Owens previously called Sanderson’s diagnosis and symptoms “utter BS.”
Paltrow’s council said Sanderson was able to travel to 10 countries in the years following the ski accident. They also complained a separate witness for Sanderson, neuroradiology expert Dr. Wendell Gibby, did not review Sanderson’s 2009 MRI that allegedly showed he had sustained past brain injuries.
“I’m famous … At what cost?”
On the same day as the crash between Paltrow and Sanderson, the retired optometrist wrote an email to his daughters with the subject line “I’m famous.”
In a string of emails back and forth, one of Sanderson’s daughters, Shae Herath, insinuated that the collision must have been caught on a GoPro camera. Much of the trial has revolved around whether that GoPro footage exists at all.
In her reply to Sanderson, Herath testified Friday that she changed the email’s subject line to “I’m famous …At what cost?”
She clarified during her testimony that Sanderson called her and said there had been another skier on the hill with a GoPro – though she admitted her memory was “fuzzy,” as she had suffered an injury to her ACL around the same time as her father was allegedly hurt. She said she had never seen GoPro footage of the collision and was not sure it existed.
Sanderson’s changing personality
Herath testified that her father’s personality changed for the worse as a result of the alleged brain injury.
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She claimed the trauma left Sanderson frustrated, easily distracted and unable to multitask as he used to. She recalled an incident where Sanderson allegedly “belittled” her own young daughter, his granddaughter, to the point of tears over commotion surrounding how to close a van door.
“He damaged his relationship with her because he was so awful to her,” she said.
Herath claimed the behaviour was “uncharacteristic” of Sanderson prior to his accident.
Mark Herath, Sanderson’s son-in-law, also testified Friday that Sanderson’s personality changed after the ski incident. He claimed Sanderson was hostile, paranoid and difficult to be around.
Polly Sanderson, Sanderson’s other daughter, testified earlier in the week. She was asked by Owens about an incident that allegedly saw Sanderson punch a man he believed to be having an affair with his ex-wife. Polly said she had no memory of the incident.
After a brief recess, Owens apologized for “being an ass” to Polly. He said: “It was wrong for me to triangulate you, your dad and your sister and your mom, and I ask for your forgiveness.”
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Paltrow’s ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ glasses
Much of the online reaction to the Sanderson vs. Paltrow trial has surrounded Paltrow’s fashion choices.
Since the first moments Paltrow appeared in court on Tuesday, social media was flooded with comments about her “Jeffrey Dahmer glasses.”
Though currently in trend, the thin, gold wire frames, complete with a full brow bar, have a striking resemblance to the pair worn by Dahmer, an infamous American serial killer.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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