Gwyneth Paltrow’s attorneys show animated reconstruction at ski crash trial
Gwyneth Paltrow’s attorneys have shown jurors in her trial over a ski collision two animated reconstructions of the accident.
Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, argues that the Hollywood star ploughed into him on the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain at the Deer Valley Resort on 26 February 2016. Mr Sanderson claims the “full body hit” left him with a permanent traumatic brain injury that has robbed him of “his enjoyment for life.”
Mr Sanderson filed for damages in January 2019 and is seeking $300,000 in compensation for the injuries he sustained. The actress, who alleges it was Mr Sanderson who rammed into her, filed a countersuit in which she asks for a symbolic $1 should she win and for her legal expenses to be covered.
Ms Paltrow’s defence introduced a visual aide on the fifth day of trial on Monday, which shows the crash from the point of view of Eric Christiansen, Ms Paltrow’s children’s ski instructor, who has testified her version of events is what actually took place. In a screengrab, Ms Paltrow can be seen skiing slightly in front of Mr Sanderson.
Another recreation of the actual collision was shown in court on Tuesday, with biomechanical engineering expert Irving Scher weighing on what he says is the most likely explanation of the events, according to his expertise in physics. Judge Kent Holmberg has told the jury that both recreations are not evidence and are to be taken merely as tools for experts hired by Ms Paltrow.
Ms Paltrow said on Monday that the video was very similar to what he had witnessed on the day of the accident. However, he told the jury that he did not see the actual collision but the moments preceding it.
Meanwhile, Craig Ramon, who was skiing with Mr Sanderson on the day of the accident, says that he saw Ms Paltrow ski into Mr Sanderson’s back.
Dr Richard Boehme, who testified for Mr Sanderson last week, previously told the court that Mr Sanderson’s four broken ribs could only be explained by Ms Paltrow being the one to cause the crash from behind.
But Dr Scher on Tuesday challenged that assertion, arguing that Dr Boehme’s calculations were wrong and the animated recreation, while not entirely accurate, offered a very possible version of the events.
“I think that accurately reflects the version that Ms Paltrow testified to, which matches the law of physics and biomechanics as I understand them,” Dr Scher testified.
He added: “Ms Paltrow’s version has them spooning as they’re coming down together, which would make sense if their legs got caught up.”
“Also, consistent with Ms Paltrow’s saying that he right knee was splayed open at the end and she felt right-knee discomfort.”
Meanwhile, Mr Sanderson’s attorney Robert Sykes tried to poke holes in Dr Scher’s testimony.
“You helped create this animation, you don’t know the distance on your own animation?” Mr Sykes asked.
Dr Scher argued that he had been in charge of the collision part of the accident, and another expert would testify on the dimensions of the recreation. Judge Holmberg ruled that the second expert will not be allowed to comment on the recreation, as it would be speculative.
During the first six days of trial, Mr Sanderson’s attorneys and expert medical witnesses have described how injuries were likely caused by someone crashing into him from behind and attributed noticeable changes in his mental acuity to that day’s injuries.
Ms Paltrow’s attorneys have tried to paint Dr Sanderson as a 76-year-old whose decline followed a normal course of ageing rather than resulted from crashing into their celebrity client.