The daughter of the man who collided with Gwyneth Paltrow on a ski slope, has said seeing her father’s state after the incident was like “a slap in the face”.
Polly Sanderson-Grasham said that following the crash in 2016, her father was unable to “see the forest for the trees” and got “lost in the minutiae” of things.
Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, is suing the Oscar-winning actor over the incident at the Deer Valley ski resort in Utah, alleging she crashed into him and caused severe brain injuries. Paltrow has denied the claim and is counter-suing Sanderson, alleging it was him that caused the collision.
On Thursday the court in Park City, Utah, heard that prior to the incident Sanderson had been “fun-loving, gregarious” man.
Sanderson-Grasham described her father as a “go-er” and a “real positive influence”, as well as an experienced skier. She described seeing the state of her father at his granddaughter’s graduation around three months after the skiing crash: “I felt like ‘wow’. There was a moment when I almost expected drool to come out of his mouth,” she said. “He wasn’t engaged with anyone … that was my first slap in the face that something is terribly wrong.”
She added that her father could now not “see the forest for the trees” and got stuck “in the minutiae” of things. “He’s easily frustrated, he gets agitated, angry – I didn’t have memory of him being an angry person, but he’s got a pretty short fuse these days,” she said. “I think he’s just a little more cautious, not as confident – he’s in a really negative place and that’s hard for me as his daughter.”
Sanderson-Grasham later became emotional, telling the court: “I hope that [my father] moves on … We have a lot of healing to do.”
Later on Thursday, Steve Owens, Paltrow’s attorney, asked Sanderson-Grasham about missing GoPro camera footage that he called “the most important piece of evidence”.
Owens asked her about emails exchanged with her father about the mysterious footage and the possibility that the lawsuit was filed against Paltrow because she was famous. The GoPro footage has not been found or included as evidence for the trial.
“I’m famous … at what cost?” Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist suing Paltrow, wrote in the subject line of an email to his family after the crash.
“It matches his personality a little bit, making light of a serious situation,” Sanderson-Grasham said of the email.
Paltrow’s attorneys have accused Sanderson of suing to exploit their client’s wealth and celebrity. She is the Oscar-winning star of Shakespeare in Love and founder of Goop, a beauty and wellness company.
Day three of the civil lawsuit began earlier with a video deposition from neuropsychologist Dr Alina Fong, who said that when she first met Sanderson in 2017, he had presented “a myriad” of symptoms indicative of having suffered a concussion.
She said: “According to Terry’s report, these were quite significantly affecting his life. It was affecting his personal life, his relationships.
“It affected him on so many levels, especially for someone who was used to loving life … by the time he came to me that was pretty much gone.”
Fong challenged the opinions of other medical experts employed by Ms Paltrow’s defence, adding: “This has completely changed his life physically, emotionally, biologically – and he has been affected in all those domains.”
She said there was no evidence “whatsoever” that Sanderson was “faking” his injuries and he had been “an ideal patient”.
Her words echoed those of fellow neuropsychologist Dr Sam Goldstein, from whom the jury heard on Wednesday.
Goldstein said the incident had caused an “acute rapid downturn” in Sanderson’s behaviour and functioning that had not stemmed from pre-existing medical issues.
Sanderson and Paltrow are both due to take the stand in the coming days, as well as members of the actor’s family.
Sanderson is suing Paltrow for a minimum of $300,000, claiming she recklessly crashed into him on a beginner run at Deer Valley Resort. In a counterclaim, Paltrow is seeking $1 and attorney fees. The amount of money at stake for both sides pales in comparison with the typical legal costs of a multi-year lawsuit and expert witness-heavy trial.
In the first two days of trial, Sanderson’s attorneys and expert medical witnesses said his injuries were probably caused by someone crashing into him from behind. They attributed noticeable changes in Sanderson’s mental acuity to injuries from that day.
Paltrow’s attorneys have tried to represent Sanderson as a 76-year-old whose decline has followed a normal course of ageing. They have not yet called witnesses but in opening statements previewed for jurors that they planned to call Paltrow’s husband, Brad Falchuk, and her children, Moses and Apple.
Paltrow is expected to be called to testify on Friday or early next week, when the eight-day trial continues.
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