Gwyneth Paltrow says she thought Skier may have sexually assaulted her
Gwyneth Paltrow, the Academy Award-winning actress and founder of Goop, is embroiled in a civil trial in Utah over a skiing collision in 2016. Paltrow, 50, is being sued for $300,000 by Terry Sanderson, 76, a retired optometrist who claims that Paltrow skied “out of control” and crashed into him on the run at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, causing him serious injuries.
The trial, which entered its second week on Monday, centers on a dispute over which skier was downhill and therefore had the right of way. Both Paltrow and Sanderson claim that they were downhill skiers. Sanderson has accused Paltrow of skiing “out of control” and crashing into him from behind, causing a traumatic brain injury and four broken ribs, among other serious injuries. Paltrow’s lawyers, who are countersuing, claim that Sanderson was uphill from Paltrow and “plowed into her back,” causing her to sustain a “full body blow.”
The trial has also brought to light other personal details about Paltrow, including her ski instruction expenses for her children and her relationship with the singer Taylor Swift. Kristin VanOrman, one of Sanderson’s lawyers, appeared to try to draw attention to Paltrow’s fame and wealth, asking her about the thousands of dollars she paid for ski instruction for her children and whether she was friends with Swift. Paltrow acknowledged that she and Swift are friendly but rarely talk.
Paltrow’s countersuit involves a symbolic $1 and the cost of attorney fees. One of her attorneys, Stephen Owens, has repeatedly waved a $1 bill toward the jury to emphasize the trivial amount of money at stake in the case.
During her testimony on Friday, Paltrow claimed that Sanderson ran into her from behind, knocking her down and causing her to think that the collision was sexually inappropriate behavior briefly. “That was a quick thought that went through my head when I was trying to reconcile what was happening,” she testified. “I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart. And then there was a body pressing against me and then there was a very strange grunting noise.”
Sanderson took the stand on Monday and gave his account of the collision. He claimed he was skiing with “nothing in front of me” when he heard “a blood-curdling scream.” Sanderson said he was hit in the back and felt the two fists and ski poles between his shoulder blades. “All I saw was a whole lot of snow and I didn’t see the sky,” he said. “I was flying in that sense, and I had no control.”
Sanderson’s lawyers have argued that Paltrow was involved in a hit-and-run, leaving him alone and denying or covering up that she caused the crash. They have also claimed that the collision permanently damaged Sanderson’s brain and hurt his relationships with his loved ones, including his daughters.
The trial has heard from several witnesses, including Paltrow’s ski instructor, Craig Ramon, who claimed to be the sole eyewitness to the crash and said that he saw Paltrow hit Sanderson. Ramon also testified about a posting on Meetup.com that confirmed his account of the collision. However, Paltrow’s attorneys have questioned the extent of Sanderson’s injuries and have suggested that they may have predated the accident or be attributable to aging.
The trial is expected to last several more days and is closely watched by legal experts and the media. Regardless of the outcome, it has highlighted the complexities of skiing accidents and the difficulties of determining liability.