Gwyneth Paltrow ski collision victim ‘had brain damage before 2016 crash’, trial hears

·2-min read

Experts testifying for Ms Paltrow in her ski collision trial have said that the man suing her had brain damage before he crashed with the Hollywood star.

Terry Sanderson, 76, claims that Ms Paltrow careered into him on the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain at the Deer Valley Resort on 26 February 2016. He alleges Ms Paltrow’s “full body hit” left him with a permanent traumatic brain injury that has robbed him of “his enjoyment for life”. Ms Paltrow claims it was Mr Sanderson who crashed into her.

Testifying for the defence on Wednesday, neuroradiologist Dr Carl Black said that after reviewing Mr Sanderson’s 2009 MRI, he concluded that his brain injuries – including microvascular disease and hydrocephalus – were present before the 2016 ski crash.

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“Those findings pre-date the accident and go back to 2009,” Dr Black, who reviewed Mr Sanderson’s scans before and after the ski collision, told jurors.

Neurologist Dr Robert Hoesch also testified that Mr Sanderson’s complaints about his cognitive decline and personality change don’t stem from the crash.

Dr Hoesch said that there was no evidence the concussion left permanent damage in Mr Sanderson’s brain and it would have resolved within months. Instead, Dr Hoesch testified, it is more likely that Mr Sanderson’s symptoms were caused by his previous pathologies.

“The ski injury caused a mild concussion and his symptoms are more likely to be due to pre-existing conditions or new conditions,” said Dr Hoesch.

Experts testifying for Mr Sanderson introduced earlier in the trial a scale of his cognitive decline, in which he averaged “low or below” for most categories such as flexibility, organisation, planning and self-monitoring.

When asked about her opinion on the report, neuropsychologist Dr Eastvold said she could not speak to its validity as it’s not often used in a clinical setting.

“This is a really nice quantification of the patient’s subjective complaint, it is not evidence of objective deficits,” Dr Eastvold testified for the defence. “It’s just a summary and quantification of what the patient is reporting.”

Ms Paltrow’s attorneys have tried to paint Mr Sanderson as a 76-year-old whose decline followed a normal course of ageing rather than resulted from crashing into their celebrity client. Ms Paltrow previously said she felt “very sorry” for Mr Sanderson but reiterated that she was not “at fault” for the crash.

Mr Sanderson said he had become a “self-imposed recluse” after the incident and had been advised never to ski again in case of further injury.

Mr Sanderson filed for damages in January 2019 and is seeking $300,000 (£243,000) in compensation for the injuries he sustained, prompting the actress to file a countersuit in which she asks for a symbolic $1 should she win and for her legal expenses to be covered.