A retired optometrist accused the actress in a lawsuit of violently crashing into him in a skiing accident in Park City in 2016. He is seeking $300,000 in damages.
Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress and lifestyle entrepreneur, is expected to testify in a civil trial in the coming weeks after a retired optometrist accused her of violently crashing into him while skiing in Park City, Utah, in 2016.
Terry Sanderson, 76, sued Ms. Paltrow, 50, accusing her of skiing “out of control” during a ski run at the Deer Valley Resort, according to court documents, hitting his back, “knocking him down hard, knocking him out” and causing a traumatic brain injury and four broken ribs, among other serious injuries. He is seeking $300,000 in damages.
Ms. Paltrow has countersued, accusing Mr. Sanderson of running into her and using her fame to get her to “pay him millions,” according to court documents. She is seeking the cost of her lawyer fees.
The trial got underway in a courtroom in Park City on Tuesday as lawyers traded opening statements that touched on skiing etiquette and the role that celebrity may have played. Ms. Paltrow, in a cream turtleneck sweater and brown slacks, sat with her lawyers.
One of Ms. Paltrow’s lawyers, Stephen W. Owens, said that the trial was expected to last about two weeks and that jurors would hear from about 20 witnesses, including doctors, ski instructors and Ms. Paltrow’s children.
What happened on the mountain?
According to documents submitted by Ms. Paltrow’s lawyers, the actress was taking ski lessons while on vacation with her family on Feb. 26, 2016, when Mr. Sanderson, who they said was uphill from Ms. Paltrow, “plowed into her back,” causing her to sustain a “full body blow.”
Ms. Paltrow was skiing when she suddenly saw “two skis appear between her skis and a man comes up right behind her,” Mr. Owens said in his opening statement on Tuesday, adding that she briefly thought she was being assaulted. The two then tumbled over, Ms. Paltrow falling onto Mr. Sanderson.
According to Mr. Sanderson’s lawyers, Ms. Paltrow “skied out of control” and into the back of Mr. Sanderson, who said he was downhill from Ms. Paltrow. A Deer Valley ski instructor, who had been training Ms. Paltrow, skied over, saw that Mr. Sanderson was injured, and skied off, later “falsely accusing” him of causing the crash and filing a report “to protect his client,” Ms. Paltrow.
A question of skiing etiquette.
At its core, the case hinges on skiing etiquette. Both Ms. Paltrow and Mr. Sanderson have claimed that they were the downhill skier and therefore had the right of way on the beginner’s run.
Mr. Sanderson’s lawyers said Ms. Paltrow had a “duty to ski safely” but instead negligently struck Mr. Sanderson, a downhill skier who had the right of way, in the back, causing him permanent harm. Court documents say that his injuries include “permanent traumatic brain injury, 4 broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement,” and add that Mr. Sanderson “will continue to suffer injuries and damages in the future.”
Ms. Paltrow was involved in a hit and run, Mr. Sanderson’s lawyers said, leaving him alone, then denying or covering up the fact that she caused the crash.
“Before this crash, Terry was a charming, outgoing, gregarious person,” one of the lawyers, Lawrence D. Buhler, said in his opening statement on Tuesday. “After the crash, he’s no longer charming.”
Ms. Paltrow claims that she was downhill from Mr. Sanderson and therefore he was responsible for the collision. According to court documents, Mr. Sanderson, who was 69 at the time, had told his doctor about a year earlier that he was blind in his right eye and that vision in his left eye was declining.
According to court documents, Mr. Sanderson held a news conference three years after the episode and demanded that Ms. Paltrow pay him millions of dollars. On Tuesday, Mr. Owens said that Mr. Sanderson was “aging” and “obsessed with this lawsuit,” and that medical witnesses would show that his brain damage stemmed from before the accident.