GoPro vision, ski screams and wine: Paltrow’s courtroom circus goes viral

Terry Sanderson is suing actress Gwyneth Paltrow, claiming she recklessly crashed into him while skiing in Utah in 2016.

Terry Sanderson is suing actress Gwyneth Paltrow, claiming she recklessly crashed into him while skiing in Utah in 2016. Photo: Getty

As a civil suit alleging Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow injured a man in a ski collision enters its second week, astonishing admissions, claims and counter-claims are going viral on social media.

In two of the most shared moments from the live-streamed Utah trial, Paltrow, who is being sued for more than $US300,000 ($451,230) by 76-year-old retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, quipped she “lost half a day of skiing” after the accident.

For Dr Sanderson, who alleges he has permanent brain damage, he is no longer able to enjoy wine tasting: “Gwyneth lost half a day’s skiing, the plaintiff can no longer enjoy wine tastings … has the universe experienced such suffering before?!” one person tweeted.

‘A blood-curdling scream’

The eight-day trial presided over by Judge Kent Holmberg has touched on the habits and hobbies of wealthy people like Dr Sanderson and 50-year-old Paltrow (Sliding Doors and Seven) as well as the power – and burden – of celebrity.

The amount of money at stake for both sides pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multiyear lawsuit, expert witnesses, a private security detail and high-resolution animations of the position of the skiers.

The testimonies by both sides are reminiscent of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp’s live TV $10 million defamation lawsuit in Virginia last year against ex-wife and Aquaman actress Amber Heard, which drew in millions of judge-and-jury couch-sitters every day.

It’s happening again.

Dr Sanderson claims that the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer was cruising down the slopes at Deer Valley Resort in Park City so recklessly that they violently collided, leaving him on the ground as she and her entourage continued their descent.

His lawyers attempted to depict the decision as reflective of celebrity carelessness, while Paltrow insisted that she was the wounded party.

It’s a skiers-only mountain known for its groomed runs, exclusive après-ski champagne, caviar yurts and posh clientele.

Much of the questioning so far has revolved around Dr Sanderson’s motivation for suing Paltrow, including suggestions he admitted in an earlier deposition he was now “famous”.

He’s attracted Colonel Sanders (KFC) memes, online allegations he deliberately stalked Paltrow after hearing she was skiing there, and questions about why he can remember so much detail if he has an acquired brain injury.

Paltrow’s lawyers have argued the lawsuit is an attempt by an “obsessed” man to exploit the actor’s wealth and celebrity.

In Dr Sanderson’s testimony on Tuesday, he claimed he was rammed from behind by the actress, recalling a screaming woman skiing out of control and hitting him square in the back.

“All I saw was a whole lot of snow. And I didn’t see the sky, but I was flying … I heard a blood-curdling scream … like someone was seriously out of control,” Dr Sanderson told the court.

He said, she said

That’s the opposite of what Paltrow testified last week, when she said Dr Sanderson was uphill from her and hit her from behind.

She testified that the crash shocked her and the way the man’s skis veered between her legs made her worry at first that she was being “violated”, but after a split-second panic realised it wasn’t sexual in nature.

“There was a body pressing against me and a very strange grunting noise,” she said on Friday.

“My brain was trying to make sense of what was happening,” she said.

After sitting in court for four days, Paltrow spent more than two hours testifying to the Park City jury.

She categorically denied fault for the collision.

When asked about the “losses” she had suffered from the crash, she replied: “Well, we lost half a day of skiing,” she said dryly.

US actress Busy Phillips attracted a wealth of comments after posting Paltrow’s ‘lost a half day skiing’ comment. Photo: Busy Phillips/Instagram

‘I’m waiting for the SNL version’

As Paltrow’s comments went viral, fellow US actor and former late show talk host, Busy Philipps, 43, also joined in what became a bit of a  roasting, posting a selfie of herself and Jen Tullock on Instagram.

She captioned the post with the now-infamous line: “Well, we lost a half day of skiing.”

Other social media users sarcastically offered “thoughts and prayers” to Paltrow while others posted mocking memes.

“I’m waiting for the SNL [Saturday Night Live] version,” wrote one.

Where’s that GoPro vision?

What we do know is that both sides agree the two fell down, with Paltrow landing on top of Dr Sanderson.

Paltrow’s lawyers have disputed the extent of Dr Sanderson’s injuries and post-crash disorientation, but both sides agree the collision resulted in Dr Sanderson’s four broken ribs and concussion.

After four-and-a-half days of Dr Sanderson’s lawyers calling witnesses, Paltrow’s defence team has equal time to present its case.

It began, somewhat bizarrely, with Paltrow’s lawyers asking the judge if her private security could bring in sweet treats for the bailiffs “for how helpful they’ve been”.

Judge Holmberg replied: “OK, there’s an objection so thank you, but no thank you.”

On a more serious note, they argue Paltrow didn’t cause the crash and the extent of Dr Sanderson’s injuries has been exaggerated.

They’ve raised questions about Dr Sanderson’s motivation for suing Paltrow, probing his family members about his post-crash communications about her celebrity and his proximity to it.

They’ve asked two of Dr Sanderson’s daughters whether their father thought it was “cool” to collide with a celebrity like Paltrow.

After the collision, Dr Sanderson sent his daughters an email with the subject line: “I’m famous … At what cost?”

The oldest daughter, Shae Herath, wrote back: “I also can’t believe this is all on GoPro.”

On Friday, Ms Herath attempted to clarify the record amid questions about the possibility the crash was recorded on a bystander’s helmet camera.

She testified she didn’t know whether footage existed and said her email referred to an earlier phone conversation in which her father assumed there must be footage from someone on the crowded run.

Amateur online sleuths have made some headway but as yet no video has been found.

Also on Tuesday, lawyers called one of Paltrow’s family’s four ski instructors to the stand. Her two teenage children, Moses and Apple, are also expected to testify later on.

Jurors were transfixed as Paltrow’s lawyers played computer-animated reconstructions of how they say the collision occurred, with high enough resolution to show trees, children’s ski coats and show the crash from multiple vantage points.

Dr Sanderson’s lawyers have attempted to paint Paltrow as a carefree movie star who hurt an ageing man and is unwilling to take responsibility for the fallout.

“No one believed how serious my injuries were,” said Dr Sanderson, who enjoyed wine tasting and international travel before the crash.

“There was lots of insults added to that singular incident.”

The eight-person jury trial in Park City, Utah, is expected to run until March 30, according to the Utah State Courts website.

– with AAP

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