Gwyneth Paltrow Appears in Court as Ski Crash Trial Begins

REUTERS/Mike Blake
REUTERS/Mike Blake

On Tuesday, Gwyneth Paltrow made her first appearance in court for the beginning of a civil trial in Park City, Utah, over a 2016 skiing accident. The actress is being sued by Terry Sanderson, a 76-year-old retired optometrist who claims Paltrow crashed into him while the two were skiing on the same beginner run, leaving him severely injured.

Sanderson says that in 2016, Paltrow recklessly crashed into him while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, leaving him with “a concussion, [a] brain injury and four broken ribs.” He is seeking $300,000 in damages.

Paltrow in turn countersued Sanderson for $1 in 2019, saying that Sanderson actually collided with her in the accident and that his only aim in suing her was to exploit her celebrity and wealth.

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In court on Tuesday, Paltrow, wearing a turtleneck cream sweater, looked annoyed and somber at different points while hearing the opening statement from Sanderson’s attorney. The lawyer said that Paltrow, who had been skiing that day with her now-husband Brad Falchuk and her children, had been looking up the mountain at her kids when she collided with Sanderson, knocking him over.

Sanderson’s attorney said the retiree suffered brain damage that will affect him for the rest of his life. He also cited forthcoming testimony from a doctor who said that Sanderson’s injuries, specifically his four broken ribs, could only have been sustained by Paltrow colliding with him.

In his own opening statement, Paltrow’s attorney told jurors: “One of the judge’s instructions to you was to have no sympathy, passion or prejudice; you’re not to award anyone anything because you feel sorry for them. This is important because over the next two weeks, we’re going to hear a lot about Terry Sanderson’s mental and physical health before the ski collision and after the ski collision and you’re going to feel sorrow for him. But you’re here to figure out if someone negligently crashed into someone or if no one did, and I think the law will permit you to decide no one was at fault.”

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According to Paltrow’s attorney, the actress was skiing down the run when she saw a pair of skis appear between hers and realized she was being collided with in slow motion. The two parties then fell over near the top of the run, the attorney said.

Eric Christiansen, Paltrow’s ski instructor at the time, witnessed what happened, Paltrow’s attorney said, and filed a Deer Valley report. “Male skier took her out from behind,” the report reads, per Paltrow’s attorney, who read it in court on Tuesday. “First thing male skier stated was that she appeared right in front of him, thus admitting that he was the uphill skier and that she never saw him because he came in from behind.”

The trial is expected to last about a week. It’s unclear if Paltrow herself will take the stand, but her attorney told jurors that they would hear from the actress’s husband, Falchuk, and her children, Apple and Moses, during the trial.

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