Many celebrities descend on Park City once a year for the Sundance Film Festival – but the past week in the city has been about one star and one courtroom drama in particular.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s legal team has now rested in a civil trial over a 2016 ski collision with a retired eye doctor at the upscale Deer Valley Resort in Utah.
Terry Sanderson, 76, is seeking $300,000 (£244,000) in damages over physical and emotional wounds he attributes to the crash, an incident he says Ms Paltrow caused. He says it left him with brain damage and broken ribs.
However, he did apologise directly to Ms Paltrow for describing her in a 2019 press conference as screaming like “King Kong in the jungle” – he had meant to say she screamed like a woman being chased by King Kong, he clarified.
Turning to face her, he said suing a celebrity had been painful, but “somebody has to be [held] accountable” for the incident. Ms Paltrow could be seen vigorously shaking her head.
The Hollywood actress has denied being responsible and has counter-sued.
Ms Paltrow is seeking $1, plus compensation for attorneys’ fees. She has been present at each day’s proceedings.
On Wednesday, the Oscar winner wore black from head-to-toe as she alighted from a dark SUV and breezed into the Third District Court.
Mr Sanderson was already inside the courtroom and the two did their utmost to avoid eye contact as she walked by.
More than seven years have passed since the accident on a beginner’s slope known as the Bandana Run – a collision the former US army captain and optometrist says left him with a concussion that “completely changed” his life.
On Wednesday, medical experts called to the stand by Ms Paltrow’s defence team disputed that characterisation.
“Mr Sanderson does not currently need ongoing neurological treatment,” said Dr Robert Hoesch, a neurologist, adding: “I would evaluate [him] for dementia.”
Neuro-psychologist Dr Angela Eastvold argued the plaintiff had suffered “at most, a mild concussion” and that he showed no evidence of a brain injury.
“Anxiety can drive perception of a lot of these difficulties,” she said.
Dr Eastvold suggested that, while evidence indicates “he is genuinely in distress”, a concussion from the collision with Ms Paltrow could not be the cause of his struggles.
Mr Sanderson’s attorney Robert Sykes grew increasingly testy with witnesses over the course of the day.
The Salt Lake City attorney repeatedly described himself as “a simple country lawyer” who wanted simple answers.
He accused witnesses of diagnosing Mr Sanderson from the stand and being as evasive as the “Queen of Denmark” – a reference to Hamlet’s mother in the William Shakespeare play.
Gwyneth Paltrow and her two children were skiing with her now-husband, Brad Falchuk, and his two children when the crash occurred.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Source : BBC