- By Sam Cabral
- BBC News, in Park City
Many celebrities descend on Park City once a year for the Sundance Film Festival — but last week there was one star and one courtroom drama in town.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s legal team has rested a civil trial related to her 2016 ski collision with a retired ophthalmologist at the upscale Deer Valley resort in Utah.
Terry Sanderson, 76, is seeking $300,000 (£244,000) in damages for physical and emotional injuries caused by the accident, which he says was caused by Ms Paltrow. He claims he suffered brain damage and broken ribs.
The Hollywood actress refused to take responsibility and filed a counter-suit.
Ms Paltrow is seeking damages of $1 plus attorneys’ fees. She participated in every day activities.
On Wednesday, the Oscar winner was dressed head-to-toe in black as she stepped out of a dark SUV and into the Third District Courthouse.
Mr Sanderson was already inside the courtroom and both did their best to avoid eye contact as she walked away.
It’s been more than seven years since a crash on a beginner slope known as Bandana Run — a former U.S. Army captain and optometrist says — left him with a concussion that “completely changed” his life.
On Wednesday, Ms Paltrow’s defense team took the stand and medical experts disputed that characterization.
“Mr Sanderson does not currently require neurological treatment,” said Dr Robert Hosch, a neurologist, adding: “I will assess [him] for dementia.”
Neuro-psychologist Dr. Angela Eastvold argued that the plaintiff had suffered “at most, a mild concussion” and that she had shown no evidence of brain injury.
“Anxiety can make a lot of these difficulties felt,” she said.
Dr Eastwold suggested that the concussion from the collision with Ms Paltrow could not have been the cause of her struggles, although the evidence indicated that she was “really distressed”.
Mr Sanderson’s lawyer, Robert Sykes, cross-examined witnesses later in the day.
The Salt Lake City lawyer has repeatedly described himself as “a simple country lawyer” who likes simple answers.
He accused witnesses of spotting Mr Sanderson from the stand and dodging like “the queen of Denmark” – a reference to Hamlet’s mother in the William Shakespeare play.
It added to the tension in the courtroom when Mr Sanderson briefly returned to the stand after giving evidence earlier this week.
He apologized directly to Ms Paltrow for shouting “King Kong in the Jungle” at a 2019 press conference – clarifying that he meant he was shouting like a woman being chased by King Kong.
Turning to her, it was painful to sue a celebrity but “there has to be somebody [held] responsible for this incident”. Ms Paltrow was seen shaking her head vigorously.
The actress and her two children were skiing with her husband Brad Palchuk and their two children when the accident happened.
Closing arguments in the case are set to begin on Thursday.