Gwyneth Paltrow accuser ‘had brain damage long before ski crash’
Gwyneth Paltrow’s accuser suffered from a brain condition long before his collision with the actress on a Utah ski slope, a neurology expert has testified.
Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist, is suing the actress, claiming that she slammed into him from behind in a 2016 incident that left him with “permanent traumatic brain injury, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress”.
Testifying for the defence on Wednesday, neuroradiologist Dr Carl Black said that he had reviewed MRI scans of Mr Sanderson’s brain taken before and after the crash and concluded that he saw no evidence of any new injury.
Dr Black said that the 76-year-old showed signs of “white matter disease” in the years before 2016 that did not appear to have worsened.
White matter disease is an umbrella term for age-related damage to a brain's white matter caused by reduced blood flow to the tissue. It can cause issues with memory, balance and mobility.
It can be distinguished from dementia, which affects language and longer-term memory.
“So you’re seeing this same condition in the brain both before and after the accident?” asked Stephen Owens, an attorney for Ms Paltrow.
“Yes, over an 11-year period,” replied Dr Black.
Following Dr Black on the seventh day of the trial, which is expected to finish on Thursday, neurologist Dr Robert Hoesch was called for the defence.
He claimed any ailments Mr Sanderson suffered from, including mood swings and personality changes, were “likely attributable to pre-existing conditions”.
“If you read records before the collision and after, it doesn’t change the trajectory,” Dr Hoesch told the court.
The only neurological problems Mr Sanderson experienced after the collision can be attributed to “a mild concussion”, he said.
“Ninety-six per cent or more would have made a full recovery from that severity of concussion, 99 per cent within a few months. They are not permanent as plaintiff’s experts claim,” added Dr Hoesch.
He assessed that Mr Sanderson never had any lack of consciousness, as the retiree, fellow skier and friend Craig Ramone earlier testified to - “or if so it lasted no more than seconds”.
He also pointed to white matter shown in Mr Sanderson’s brain scans.
Mr Sanderson's attorneys last week called to the stand his personal doctor, as well as experts in neurology, neuropsychology and radiology to testify on the extent of his injuries and post-concussion syndrome.
They drew a link between the accident and symptoms he has continued to experience.
Neuropsychologist Dr Angela Eastvold later testified that Mr Sanderson’s records show he experienced chronic anxiety and depression since the 1990s.
She testified that records from a previous evaluation also found he scored high on narcissism.
“He’s someone that likes attention and needs approval,” Dr Eastvold told the jury.
Late on Wednesday, Mr Sanderson was recalled to the witness box to face further questioning from Ms Paltrow's defence team.
He accepted that he had referred to Ms Paltrow as "King Kong coming out of the jungle", but denied he had called her "Godzilla" to his daughter.
He accepted that he had gone on multiple foreign trips and attended a party for Cinco de Mayo (May 5) following the incident, after being shown multiple pictures from his Facebook page.
‘It's very difficult to sue a celebrity’
Mr Sanderson said he had been told by medical experts that travelling would be "healing" for him and that he had struggled during his trips.
"Looking back at that time, I was determined to prove I didn't have any mental issues. All I did was to stab that in my record, that he does not want that in his life," he said.
He said that he had felt "chewed out", adding: "People don't see me the same way, and I don't feel the same way and it's very discouraging."
Mr Sanderson then apologised to Ms Paltrow for referring to her as sounding "like King Kong coming out of the jungle", saying that his intention had been "twisted up".
Mr Sanderson said it was "very difficult" to sue a celebrity, and that his entire life had been "exposed" by the trial.
He admitted that it would be "impossible" for him to go on dating apps following the case, saying: "I feel like I've been fleshed out... everyone knows too much."
Asked if he regretted bringing the lawsuit, he said: "That's the purpose, I think, is to make me regret this lawsuit.
"It's the pain of trying to sue a celebrity, it's very difficult I will tell everyone. You will be exposed."
He added: "It was important, I felt like I was seriously injured and I had so many insults... I'm classifying this as an insult, just absolutely ignoring me.
"This is obviously an issue that someone needs to be accountable for. And if they're never held accountable, what are they going to do? They're going to do it again."
The trial continues.