- By Sam Cabral
- BBC News, Washington
A man involved in a collision with Gwyneth Paltrow on a ski slope seven years ago has lost his “ability to function at a high level”, a court in Utah has heard.
Dr. Wendell Kippy testified that Terry Sanderson was a “high-energy person” but “suddenly deteriorated” after the 2016 accident.
Mr Sanderson, 76, says the Hollywood actress caused the accident. He is seeking $US300,000 ($244,000) in damages.
Ms Paltrow, 50, is suing what her lawyers say is “complete BS”.
The Oscar winner, movie star and lifestyle influencer is seeking $1 in damages and attorney fees.
She and her children are expected to take the stand in his defense later this week.
Mr Sanderson – whose initial suit seeking $3.1 million was dismissed – was knocked unconscious after the incident at the Deer Valley resort in February 2016, reportedly suffering concussion and four broken bones.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the retired optometrist called neurologist Dr. Kippy, who reviewed Mr. Sanderson’s medical records in detail.
The witness said Mr Sanderson was a bright man who led an active life but was emotionally unstable and struggled to maintain relationships with people in his life – all after the accident.
“Terry was a very high-functioning, high-energy person” who enjoyed skiing, volunteering, dancing and spending time with her children and grandchildren, Dr. Kippy said.
“After his accident, he suddenly became worse and stopped doing many of the activities he used to do.”
She pointed to Mr Sanderson’s separation from his girlfriend, his struggle to resolve problems and incidents where he shouted at his grandchildren.
“The ability to function at a high level is lost,” he said.
Dr Kippi also noted that Mr Sanderson’s rib injuries were on his side, as Ms Paltrow was skiing downhill and slammed into him – rather than the other way around.
“If he had been the person running into her, I don’t think he would have sustained these types of injuries.”
Ms Paltrow’s lawyers said Mr Sanderson was responsible for the accident and that the then-69-year-old already had a number of medical conditions before the collision, including vision and hearing loss from a previous stroke; A brain disorder that produces too much fluid; and occasional depression.
But Dr Kippi pushed back: “The sudden change in his functioning, his behavior and his ability to interact with people was not brought about by his pre-existing conditions.”
A second witness, neuropsychologist Dr. Sam Goldstein, agreed: “Mr. Sanderson may have had pre-existing conditions. But there was a severe, adverse change in his behavior and emotional functioning.”
Dr Goldstein pointed out that Mr Sanderson’s struggles were something “you’d better understand if you follow someone for a couple of weeks”.
Ms Paltrow – who may be called to the stand on Thursday – sat quietly with her lawyers on Wednesday, her hair tied back in a button-down cream sweater.
As the morning proceedings began, his lawyers protested that the photo was taken in violation of court decorum.
“It’s a problem … having reporters in front of my client’s car … cameras in her face,” said Steve Owens. “I’m going crazy and it has to stop.”
“I recognize that as a problem,” replied Judge Kent Holmberg, who offered to bar reporters from the room if the matter continued.
Now in its second day, the Paltrow-Sanderson trial is expected to last at least six days.