The Mercury News

Gwyneth Paltrow ski collision trial brings doctors to stand

- By Sam Metz

PARK CITY, UTAH >> Two doctors on Wednesday described X-rays, brain scans and neurologic­al tests documentin­g the medical condition of a man suing Gwyneth Paltrow for a 2016 ski collision at an upscale Utah ski resort.

“After his accident, he deteriorat­ed abruptly,” Dr. Wendell Gibby said of 76-year-old Terry Sanderson, the man suing Paltrow, in court in Park City.

Sanderson's attorneys called on medical experts to try to persuade jurors that the collision left their client with irreparabl­e, life-altering injuries. Sanderson, who is a retired optometris­t, has been described in court filings and the initial days of the trial as a man who frequently skis at highend resorts and travels internatio­nally. Still, his attorneys have worked to frame the celebrity lawsuit as a David-versus-Goliath struggle, with their older but active client injured by the actor-turned-wellnessty­coon's negligence.

Gibby, a radiologis­t, said brain images suggested Sanderson's head trauma was likely caused by a skier crashing into him, supporting Sanderson's claims that he was hit by Paltrow. He said lasting effects on Sanderson's overall health were consistent with the severity of the collision. “The rib fractures certainly corroborat­e that there was enough force to cause a head injury,” Gibby added.

Dr. Samuel Goldstein, a neuropsych­ologist, called Sanderson's post-crash trajectory an “acute rapid downturn” — and urged jurors to use their common sense rather than get bogged down in questions about white matter beneath the cortex of the


“Were it not for that particular accident, the life he was living in the six months to a year before that ... he would continue to be living,” Goldstein said of Sanderson.

Sanderson claims Paltrow's recklessne­ss left him with physical injuries and brain damage. After a judge threw out his earlier $3.1 million lawsuit and ruled that he wasn't entitled to punitive damages, Sanderson amended his claims and now alleges damages of “more than $300,000.”

Paltrow will likely testify Friday, and her children Moses and Apple are also expected to take the stand sometime during the trial, her attorney said.

The amount of money sought pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multiyear lawsuit and expert witnesshea­vy trial. More than a dozen are expected to testify throughout the eightday trial in Park City — a posh ski town known for welcoming celebritie­s each year for the Sundance Film Festival.

In a countercla­im to Sanderson's amended lawsuit, Paltrow is seeking $1 and attorney fees — a familiar, symbolic action that highlights how reputation, not money, is often what's at stake for celebritie­s at trial like Paltrow. Taylor Swift similarly countersue­d a radio host for the same, symbolic amount in 2017.

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