Gwyneth Paltrow “slammed” into another skier and then “bolted” down the slope without saying a word, a US court has heard.
The Oscar-winning actress, known for her roles in the Oscar Award-winning film Shakespeare in Love and Seven, allegedly collided with Terry Sanderson and left him unresponsive at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah in 2016.
Mr Sanderson, a retired optometrist, is suing Paltrow over the incident, with proceedings taking place in Park City, Utah. He claims that Paltrow caused major injuries after skiing “out of control”, but the actress alleges that he had sought to exploit her fame and wealth and exaggerated his injuries. She is counter-suing him claiming that he crashed into her.
The trial began on 21 March at a Utah court. It is expected to last until 30 March. Here’s everything you need to know about what happened and what has been claimed by both parties.
What has Gwyneth Paltrow been accused of?
Mr Sanderson claimed in the lawsuit that Ms Paltrow crashed into him while they were both skiing separately in the Deer Valley resort in Park City, Utah seven years ago. He claims that the actress skied “out of control”, adding that the crash caused a “brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries”.
Paltrow is then alleged to have left the scene while Mr Sanderson was still lying in the snow injured. Ms Sanderson also claimed that a ski instructor who had been teaching Paltrow at the time also failed to help him and would later make a “false report to protect his client”.
In his original claim from 2019, Mr Sanderson’s legal team said: "This case involves a hit-and-run ski crash at Deer Valley, Utah, where defendant Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control and hit the back of Terry Sanderson, another skier, who was downhill, knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries. Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured."
In response to Mr Sanderson’s allegations, Paltrow has counter-sued the retired optometrist. She claims that in fact the opposite happened during the incident, alleging that he hit her with a “full body blow”.
In the counterclaim, Paltrow said that the alleged collision led her to stop skiing for the day with her family. However, the actress said that Mr Sanderson apologised to her at the scene of the crash and told her that he was fine.
What happened in court?
On the first day of the trial jurors heard from Craig Ramon, who had been skiing with Mr Sanderson and was present in the aftermath of the crash. He said he heard a “loud” scream and saw a skier, later identified as Paltrow, crash into Mr Sanderson on the mountain, leaving him “spread-eagled”.
He explained: “We were skiing down the run and then I heard this yell, this scream, and then I looked over and … then I see this skier just slam into the back of Terry. She slammed him very hard. She hits him directly in the back, his skis go out and he falls face down, so he’s kind of spread-eagled and Gwyneth is on top of him … and bounces off and slides about five or 10 feet.”
Mr Ramon said he was the only person present at the time of the collision and had asked the pair if they were alright. He added: “Terry wasn’t moving, his face was in the snow … his helmet was stuck in the snow. (Paltrow) just looked at me and I asked her again. She got up pretty quick … (but) she never said a word.”
Eric Christiansen, a Deer Valley ski instructor, arrived soon after the collision and started “yelling” at Mr Sanderson, who was still lying on the ground, and was “very hostile”, the court was told.
Mr Ramon said that Paltrow had then “bolted” down the hill, with Mr Christiansen telling him “your buddy just took out Gwyneth Paltrow”.
Lawrence Buhler, representing Mr Sanderson, told jurors that the actress’ behaviour on the mountain that day had been “reckless” and that her “neglect and conscious choices” had combined together to cause the skier “four broken ribs and permanent brain damage”.
He said: “Ladies and gentlemen… distracted skiers cause crashes. Defendant Gwyneth Paltrow knew that looking up the mountain and to the side while skiing down the mountain was dangerous. (She) was looking somewhere else blindly skiing down a mountain while looking up… (this) was reckless.”
The defence is seeking damages of up to 3,276,000 dollars (£2,688,000), Mr Buhler said.
Stephen Owens, representing Paltrow, said the actress was a “conservative” skier and had been “freaked out” when she had collided with Mr Sanderson. He told the court: “You’ll never hear the words hit and run. This was not a hit and run. The plaintiff even had a ski expert evaluate it and he said it’s not a hit and run – take that out of your mind.
“Gwyneth was hurt by Mr Sanderson’s negligence… she is upset. Anyone sustaining a blow is upset, she is sore, she never went to a doctor…but it rattled her and it physically hurt her.”
Paltrow has filed a counterclaim, alleging that Mr Sanderson had hit her and delivered a full “body blow”, and is seeking damages of one dollar. Producing a one dollar bill in court, Mr Owens added: “We ask you for a dollar. This is a lot to go through for a dollar… so she came for a family vacation, half the afternoon was kind of ruined, so that dollar is important to us, to my client.”
Both Paltrow and Mr Sanderson are scheduled to give testimony at the trial, which is set to last eight days.