Gwyneth Paltrow, The Ski Slope And The Lawsuit: What’s The Story So Far?

Posted by
Check your BMI
Gwyneth Paltrow in court in March 2023
Gwyneth Paltrow in court in March 2023

Gwyneth Paltrow is in the headlines again this week after appearing in court over an accident on a sky slope seven years ago.

If you’re confused as to exactly what has transpired – and what the actor and lifestyle entrepreneur is being accused of – then allow us to bring you up to speed.

Here’s the story so far…

First of all, what’s actually going on here?

The lawsuit relates to an incident involving Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and a now-retired optometrist, Terry Sanderson, at a ski resort in Park City, Utah back in 2016.

Terry Sanderson arriving in court in Park City, UtahTerry Sanderson arriving in court in Park City, Utah

What both parties can agree on is that they crashed into one another on the mountain, but the dispute appears to lie over who was at fault.

Sanderson is suing Paltrow over the incident, claiming her “negligence” caused him to suffer “four broken ribs and permanent brain damage”. He is seeking up to $3,276,000 (around £2,688,000) in damages.

Paltrow has filed her own counterclaim, accusing Sanderson of being responsible for the incident, and is seeking just one dollar in damages.

Gwyneth Paltrow at a red carpet event in 2016Gwyneth Paltrow at a red carpet event in 2016

What has Terry Sanderson said?

When he first filed his original claim in 2019, Sanderson described the incident as a “hit-and-run”, claiming that Paltrow was skiing “out of control” and knocked into his back, “knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries”.

He accused Paltrow of “[getting] up, [turning] and [skiing] away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured”.

In his opening statement, Sanderson’s legal representative Lawrence Buhler said: “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 court heard that the Shakespeare In Love actor considered herself an “intermediate” level skier, and had spent thousands on instructors for herself and her family.

She was also accused of “bolting” off wordlessly after the accident.

What has Gwyneth Paltrow said?

Paltrow has contested Sanderson’s version of events.

In her countersuit, she claimed that Sanderson had apologised to her immediately after the accident, and assured her he was fine.

Gwyneth Paltrow leaving court after day one of her trialGwyneth Paltrow leaving court after day one of her trial

Her legal representative, Stephen Owens, insisted the Goop founder was a “conservative” skier, and that she’d “freaked out” after the crash.

Owens also insisted: “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.”

“When asked in real time by Gwyneth he said ‘I apologise, I’m sorry’. When asked by the ski instructor he said ‘she appeared right in front of me’, and when asked by the toboggan person he said ‘I don’t know’,” Owens added.

“Mr Sanderson said his memories of this case get better over the years, that’s all I’m going to say about that – that’s not how memory works.”

Gwyneth Paltrow has filed a countersuit and is seeking damages of just one dollarGwyneth Paltrow has filed a countersuit and is seeking damages of just one dollar

What have the medical experts said?

On day two of the trial, radiologist Dr Wendell Gibby said it was “very unlikely” that Sanderson’s injuries would have been caused by him “running into Gwyneth Paltrow”.

“What I believe happened was that he was struck from the left side and that forced him into the ground,” Dr Gibby said.

“The combined weight of the two individuals slamming into the ground caused the fracture and the head injury.

“I don’t think it would be plausible that if he were running into her he would have broken the ribs on the side of his chest – he likely would have had his arms extended, he would have protected himself. Had he been the person running into her, I don’t think he would have sustained these types of injuries.”

Neurologist Dr Sam Goldstein said Sanderson’s injuries had caused an “acute rapid downturn”, and said that had the accident not taken place, “the life he was living [before] would be the life he would still be living”.

Dr Goldstein also insisted that Sanderson was not “faking” his problems or “making a mountain out of a molehill”.

Paltrow in court later in the trialPaltrow in court later in the trial

On the third day of the trial, Dr Richard Boehne claimed that Sanderson’s specific injuries could only have been caused by someone striking him from behind.

“[Sanders] was hit by someone from the side and from behind, bear in mind that person landed on him,” Dr Boehne told the court. “People who fall don’t get rib fractures… it takes something else.

“If you had a choice between Mr Sanderson hitting Ms Paltrow or Ms Paltrow hitting Mr Sanderson, you would have to pick Ms Paltrow hitting Mr Sanderson from behind and falling on top of him to account for the rib fractures.

“If you were to compare two scenarios… there’s only one scenario that would account for enough force application to fracture those ribs and that would be Ms Paltrow striking Mr Sanderson from behind and falling to the ground. In essence he was like a cushion, if you will.”

What’s next in the trial?

The eight-day trial is now into its fourth day, with both Terry Sanderson and Gwyneth Paltrow expected to offer testimony within the next week.

When the trial is complete, a jury will make a final decision.