PARK CITY, Utah — Gwyneth Paltrow’s attorneys questioned the daughter of a man suing the actor turned lifestyle influencer a ski collision in 2016 about missing GoPro camera footage that they called “the most important piece of evidence” during the trial on Thursday.
Steve Owens, Paltrow’s lawyer, asked one of the man’s daughters, Polly Grasham, about emails exchanged with her father about the mysterious footage and the possibility that the lawsuit against Paltrow had been filed because she was famous.
The GoPro footage was not found or recorded as evidence for the trial.
“I’m Famous… At What Cost?” Terry Sanderson, the 76-year-old retired optometrist who is suing Paltrow, wrote in the subject line of an email to his family following the crash.
Sanderson is suing Paltrow for more than $300,000 in damages, alleging she recklessly skied into him seven years ago during a beginner run at Deer Valley Resort, breaking his ribs and giving him a concussion. Paltrow has alleged that Sanderson caused the crash and has filed a counterclaim for $1 and attorneys’ fees.
The trial took on an increasingly personal note on the third day of proceedings when Sanderson’s daughter and a neuropsychologist testified about his declining health.
Sanderson’s lawyers tried to convince jurors that the collision had changed the course of their client’s life, leaving him brain-damaged and damaging his relationships with loved ones.
Paltrow’s lawyers doubted that Grasham and neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong could say with certainty that Sanderson’s downturn was not due to aging or documented conditions before the crash. They questioned Grasham about her father’s anger issues, divorces and estranged relationship with another of his daughters, who does not testify at trial.
Paltrow previously called the lawsuit an attempt to exploit her fame and celebrity. On Thursday, Steve Owens, her lead attorney, asked Grasham why her father sent messages referring to her fame.
“It kind of matches his personality, conceiving a serious situation,” Grasham said of the email.
Owens probed deep into Sanderson’s “obsession” with the case and whether he thought it was “cool” to clash with a celebrity like Paltrow, the Oscar-winning star of “Shakespeare in Love” and founder-CEO of the wellness company Goop.
Sanderson is also expected to testify about the lasting effects of the crash. He has not been present in court while his doctors and experts have been assessing his health problems.
Paltrow is expected to be called to testify on Friday or early next week when the eight-day trial continues.
The proceedings so far cover topics ranging from skier etiquette to the power – and burden – of celebrity. The amount of money at stake for both parties pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multi-year court case and trial involving heavy witness testimony. Sanderson’s attorney told the jury on Thursday that this trial is about “value, not cost.”
During the first two days of the trial, lawyers argued over whether Sanderson or Paltrow were farther down the slope during the collision – a disagreement rooted in a “Skiers Responsibility Code” that gives priority to whoever goes downhill. Sanderson’s attorneys and expert medical witnesses described how 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 forward.
Paltrow’s lawyers have tried to represent Sanderson as a 76-year-old whose decline followed a normal course of aging rather than the effects of a crash. They have not yet called witnesses to testify themselves, but in opening statements announced for jurors, they say they intend to call Paltrow’s husband Brad Falchuk and her two children, Moses and Apple, to the stand.