Footage that Gwyneth Paltrow’s accuser sent his family shortly after their ski collision which he boasted would make him “famous” has gone missing, the court has heard.
The Hollywood star and chief executive of lifestyle brand Goop is being sued by retired optometrist Terry Sanderson (76), who claims she ploughed into him on the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain at the Deer Valley Resort in 2016.
Mr Sanderson is hoping for $300,000 (€280,000) in damages after alleging Paltrow crashed into him and caused severe and long-lasting brain injuries.
It emerged on day four of the eight-day trial in Utah yesterday that hours after he was released from hospital, Mr Sanderson messaged friends and family with the subject line “I’m famous… at what cost” with a link to what is believed to be GoPro video footage.
However, by the time the communications were made available to Paltrow’s legal team the link was dead and it is not known what it contained.
When challenged by Paltrow’s lawyer over what they claim to be “the most important piece of evidence”, Mr Sanderson’s daughter Polly Sanderson-Grasham – a recipient of the email – claimed to not remember what that link was.
“I had a ski accident three weeks prior to my dad,” she told jurors, explaining her lack of memory. “I was not sleeping well. I also had a four and an eight-year-old to take care of, so my memory of that period is very foggy.”
The footage has not been found or included as evidence in the trial. However her attorneys suggested it could have been crucial to establishing blame in the case.
Paltrow has previously called the lawsuit an attempt to exploit her fame and celebrity.
The proceedings thus far have touched on themes ranging from skier etiquette to the power – and burden – of celebrity. The amount of money at stake is relatively little, with Mr Sanderson’s attorney telling the jury the trial is about “value, not cost”.
Day four of the civil lawsuit rattled through medical witnesses called by the plaintiff.
Dr Richard Boehne, a neurologist, testified yesterday that he believes that Paltrow hitting Mr Sanderson from behind on the slope is the only possible account “given the set of facts that were given to me and the nature of the injuries sustained” by the optometrist. Dr Boehne calculated the cause according to “classic physics” he said, but conceded that he “guesstimated” Paltrow’s weight at 130 pounds (59kg).
The judge in the case earlier denied an unusual request from the actress, when, during Thursday’s proceedings, her lawyer Stephen Owens asked the judge whether her team could bring treats for the bailiffs in gratitude for their service.
It was not known what gifts she was intending to distribute. The actress-come-celebrity influencer has a line of products including eye creams, jade eggs to insert into the body to strengthen the pelvic floor, and a “This Smells Like My Vagina” candle.
“Private security for my client wanted to bring in treats for the bailiffs for how helpful they’ve been,” Mr Owens said. “So, I wanted to do that transparently and see if there are any objections.”
Mr Sanderson’s attorneys then objected to the request, arguing that the defence did not fill them in before raising the request to the judge.
“OK, there’s an objection so thank you, but no thank you,” a baffled Judge Kent Holmberg ordered.
The 50-year-old actress was expected to take the stand last night, while her children, Apple and Moses Martin, are expected to speak in their mother’s defence next week