Why is Gwyneth Paltrow being sued over ski collision seven years ago?

Hollywood star accused of injuring retired optometrist in Utah ski crash in 2016, which she denies

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 30 March 2023 21:01 BST
Gwyneth Paltrow appears in court over Utah ski collision

Oscar-winning movie star-turned-Goop CEO Gwyneth Paltrow is currently facing trial after being sued by a man who accused her of colliding with him in a “hit-and-run ski crash” seven years ago.

The incident took place on the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain, part of the luxury Deer Valley Resort near Park City, Utah, on 26 February 2016 when Paltrow and retired optometrist Dr Terry Sanderson collided on a beginner’s course known as the Bandana Run.

Sanderson, 76, subsequently filed for damages in January 2019 and is seeking $300,000 in compensation for the injuries he sustained, prompting the actress to file a countersuit in which she asks for a symbolic $1 should she win and for her legal expenses to be covered.

The star has called the lawsuit “a meritless claim” and “an attempt to exploit her celebrity and wealth”, insisting she “remembers what happened very clearly”.

For his part, Sanderson insists that the movie star smashed into him on the slopes after racing downhill in an “out-of-control” manner.

She struck him in the back with such force, he alleges, that he was left with “permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement”.

In his complaint, the plaintiff argues that Paltrow “got up, turned and skied away”, leaving him “stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured” without summoning help.

“A Deer Valley ski instructor, who had been training Ms Paltrow, but who did not see the crash, skied over, saw the injured Sanderson and skied off, falsely accusing Sanderson of having caused the crash,” he argues.

In her countersuit, Paltrow says that the instructor, Eric Christiansen, did, in fact, see the incident and believed she was not to blame, adding that she herself received a “full body blow” in the collision and had subsequently abandoned the day’s skiing in distress.

With each side arguing that the other was at fault, proceedings finally got underway in Utah last week.

Dr Terry Sanderson
Dr Terry Sanderson (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Paltrow’s teenage children Apple and Moses were called as witnesses, while Ms Paltrow herself took the stand.

Sanderson’s attorney, Lawrence Buhler, meanwhile told jurors: “All skiers know that when they’re skiing down the mountain, it’s their responsibility to yield the right of way to skiers below them.”

Buhler also invoked his client’s military service record and characterised Paltrow as indifferent and aloof, adopting a “So what?” attitude about the collision.

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