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Paltrow insists Utah ski collision wasn’t her fault

Gwyneth Paltrow has entered the witness box to defend herself in a lawsuit over a 2016 ski collision, and repeatedly said she wasn’t to blame for the crash.

Gwyneth Paltrow Skiing Lawsuit Gwyneth Paltrow told the jury
March 26, 2023
By Sam Metz
26 March 2023

Gwyneth Paltrow has insisted on the witness stand that a ski collision at an upscale Utah ski resort in 2016 wasn’t her fault, claiming the man suing her had smashed into her from behind.

Paltrow testified that the crash shocked her, and at first she worried that she was being violated.

“There was a body pressing against me and a very strange grunting noise,” she said on Friday.

“My brain was trying to make sense of what was happening,” the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer said, clarifying on the stand that the collision was not a sexual violation.

Paltrow and Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist who is suing her, are both expected to answer questions about the crash while their lawyers jostle to convince the jury which skier was positioned downhill and who had the right of way.

Throughout Paltrow’s testimony in Park City, Utah, the Oscar-winning actor and founder-CEO of Goop calmly and repeatedly said Sanderson, who was also in court, crashed into her.

To draw attention to her wealth and privilege, Sanderson’s lawyers probed Paltrow about the price of ski instructors at posh Deer Valley Resort, and her decision to leave the mountain to get a massage the day of the crash.

Sanderson and his legal team dispersed themselves across the courtroom to re-enact the crash for the jury, whose members perked up after days of yawning through jargon-dense medical testimony about his broken ribs, concussion and brain damage.

Paltrow’s lawyers objected to her participation in such a re-enactment. 

Next week, Paltrow’s team is expected to call to the stand medical experts, ski instructors and her two children, Moses and Apple.

The trial has touched on themes ranging from skier’s etiquette to the power – and burden – of celebrity.

After the collision, Sanderson sent his daughters an email with the subject line: “I’m famous … At what cost?” 

One of the daughters wrote back: “I also can’t believe this is all on GoPro.”

GoPro cameras are commonly worn by outdoor athletes including skiers to capture action sports.

Sanderson’s daughter, Shae Herath, testified on Friday that she did not know whether GoPro footage existed, despite her email.

While Sanderson’s lawyers have focused on their client’s deteriorating health, Paltrow’s legal team has intrigued the jury with recurring questions about the mysterious, missing GoPro footage.

No video has been found or entered as evidence.

The trial thus far has shone a spotlight on Park City – the posh ski town known for hosting the Sundance Film Festival – and skiers-only Deer Valley Resort, where Paltrow and Sanderson collided. 

The proceedings have delved deep into the 76-year-old Sanderson’s medical history and personality changes, with lawyers questioning whether his deteriorating health and estranged relationships stemmed from the collision or natural process of aging.

After a judge threw out Sanderson’s earlier $US3.1 million ($A4.7 million) lawsuit, Sanderson then claimed damages of “more than $US300,000”. 

Paltrow has countersued for a symbolic $US1 and lawyer fees. 

The first three days of the trial featured testimony from medical experts, Sanderson’s personal doctor, a ski companion and his two daughters, who spoke about his post-concussion symptoms.

Paltrow’s lawyers have cast doubt on Sanderson’s medical experts and suggested that the lawsuit could be an attempt to exploit her fame and celebrity.

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