Skier suing Gwyneth Paltrow is confronted over ‘I’m famous’ email as he insists ‘I’m not into celeb worship’
The man suing Gwyneth Paltrow over a 2016 ski collision was confronted in court on Monday about his “I’m famous” comments in the aftermath of the crash as he insisted that he is “not into celebrity worship”.
Terry Sanderson, 76, took the stand on Monday in court in Park City, Utah, where he is seeking $300,000 in damages from the Goop mogul.
Mr Sanderson has accused Paltrow of crashing into him on a ski slope at the Deer Valley resort in Park City, Utah, back in February 2016.
He claims the crash left him with “permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement”.
Meanwhile, Paltrow claims it was Mr Sanderson who actually crashed into her – and that he is trying to exploit Paltrow’s fame and wealth.
Just hours after the crash, Mr Sanderson sent an email to his daughters with the subject line: “I’m famous”.
When the retired optometrist took the witness stand on Monday, he was questioned about his comments.
He admitted that he “didn’t pick my words well” but insisted that he was simply trying to “add some levity to a serious situaton” and keep his daughters informed about what had happened to him.
“My head was scrambled. All I was trying to do was desperately communicate with my kids before they heard from someone else,” he said.
“I didn’t pick my words well – and it was not at all how I felt.”
He added: “I was really trying to add some levity to a serious situation and it backfired. Little did I know this is where we’d be.”
He insisted – when he discovered who the accident involved – he did “absolutely not” think it was cool.
“Absolutely not. That’s not who I am,” he said.
“I’m not into celebrity worship so I didn’t care at that point,” he testified.
Under cross-examination, Paltrow’s attorney pulled up Mr Sanderson’s deposition where he said “yes, I guess” when asked if he thought it was “cool” to have a crash with a celebrity.
“I don’t remember saying it,” Mr Sanderson testified on Monday.
He agreed that the “I’m famous” comment was misguided, blaming it on the “other personality inhabiting my body right now”.
“And you blame Gwyneth Paltrow for that?” asked Paltrow’s attorney.
Mr Sanderson replied: “Yes absolutely.”
Paltrow’s legal team also sought to pick holes in other aspects of Mr Sanderson’s testimony in court – and how it differed to a deposition he gave three years ago.
In the deposition, Mr Sanderson also gave a markedly different weight and height for himself, the court heard.
During his direct testimony, Mr Sanderson also insisted he had never seen or heard of a GoPro capturing the incident.
He testified that he didn’t have his GoPro on that day – adding that it would have been helpful if someone had footage to show what happened.
There has been much speculation as to whether or not there was any footage of the crash.
Mr Sanderson’s daughter Shae Sanderson-Heath previously brought up the possible existence of a GoPro video in an email.
She testified last week that she had never seen footage but did believe some video existed at that point.
“He said there has to be GoPro footage because there was this big blood-curdling scream, so that means someone with a GoPro would have turned to look and captured it,” she said.
Mr Sanderson told the court what he remembered about the day of the ski crash.
He said he was skiing down the slope in Deer Valley when he heard the Hollywood star let out a “bloodcurdling scream” .
“I heard something I have never heard at a ski resort and that was a bloodcurdling scream,” he said.
“I just, I can’t do it,” he said of the noise, before quietly impersonating a screaming sound inside the courtroom.
“And then boom! It was like somebody was out of control and was going to hit a tree and was about to die,” he said of the noise.
The 76-year-old said he then felt a “serious smack” into the back of him.
“I got hit in my back so hard – right in the shoulder blades,” he said.
“A serious, serious smack. Never been hit that hard and I was flying, I’m absolutely flying.”
“All I saw was a whole lot of snow and I didn’t see sky.”
He added: “And I was flying in that sense. I had no control... Then it was like the ground was coming up. I just said okay I’ve got to protect my face and head. And thats the last thing I remember. The last thing I remember everything is black.”
He said he “had no idea” if Paltrow landed on top of him saying that the next thing he can remember is hearing a “mad, angry male voice” shouting at him.
Mr Sanderson has claimed that Paltrow’s ski instructor shouted at him and blamed him for what happened after the accident.
Mr Sanderson choked back his emotions as he described the physical and mental toll of the crash.
“I’m like living another life now,” he said.
The retired optometrist testified that he could no longer ski because he was told if he did and had another crash “I could wind up full-time in a nursing home”.
He also blamed the crash for the breakdown of his relationship with his then-partner Karlene Davidson.
“I said I’m not sure I’m going to get to back to normal again and I don’t want you to feel that I’m a crippled vet and you’re going to stick it out with me, because I know you would,” he said.
“But don’t do it – you need your life. You run right now.”
He added: “It was a sad time for both of us, I know, and she’s in a great relationship now … and that was the purpose, and I think better than what I would have brought her, honestly. It’s hard to admit that.”
Mr Sanderson is seeking more than $300,000 in damages. Paltrow is countersuing for just $1 and for her legal fees to be covered.
In court on Friday, Paltrow testified that for a brief moment she thought the ski collision was in fact a sexual assault as she felt Mr Sanderson crash into the back of her.
The Oscar winner described how she “froze” as she says his set of skis suddenly “forced my legs apart”.
“His body pressed into my back so I froze, I don’t know how far the skis came through but I felt his body pressing against my back,” she said.
Paltrow said she was not in any way accusing Mr Sanderson of sexual assault but had just been “trying to put together what could possibly be going on behind me” in that moment.
Mr Sanderson is expected to be the last witness for his team.
Paltrow’s defence will then begin its case, with plans to call the star’s children Moses and Apple to testify in her defence.