Top 10 notable moments from Gwyneth Paltrow's ski crash lawsuit trial
Gwyneth Paltrow is being sued by Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist who alleges she skied into him in Deer Valley, Utah, in 2016. Sanderson, 76, says he suffered broken ribs and brain injury symptoms after the collison. Paltrow maintains that it was Sanderson who skied into her back and is countersuing for $1.
Both Paltrow and Sanderson have taken the stand during the high-profile trial. Here are some of the top moments from testimony.
- Paltrow said she first thought the accident was a "practical joke" or "something perverted"
Paltrow was on a ski trip with her children, Apple and Moses, as well as then-boyfriend Brad Falchuck, who she has since married, and his children.
While being questioned by Sanderson's lawyer Kristin VanOrman, Paltrow said she was an intermediate skier and said she was on a "green run" – or easy mountain – when she was allegedly hit in the back by another skier.
"Two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart," Paltrow testified. "And then, there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange, grunting noise. My brain was trying to make sense of what was happening. I thought, 'Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really really strange.'"
"My mind was going very, very quickly and I was trying to ascertain what was happening," she said.
2. Sanderson said he immediately apologized after a skier collided with him
Sanderson testified that when he was skiing, he heard something strange — a "blood-curdling scream." Then, he alleges, he was hit.
"I'm thinking, I got to placate this [skier]. He's really mad," he said. "I remember saying, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry.' Twice."
He said his apology sounded like a whisper. "Nothing was coming out. My lips were moving, my tongue was moving, there was nothing coming out of my mouth. And my heart rate went up again."
3. Sanderson didn't immediately know the other skier was Paltrow
Sanderson, who was with a group on the slopes that day, went to urgent care after the collision to have his injuries checked. He said it was there that he believes his friend, Craig Ramon, told him Paltrow was the other skier involved.
Sanderson testified that he's "not into celebrity worship," so he "didn't care at that point."
"Did you think it was cool to collide with a celebrity?" VanOrman asked.
"Absolutely not. That is not who I am, no," he said.
4. Paltrow's attorney says Sanderson called himself "famous"
Paltrow's attorney Steve Owens said Sanderson wrote on Facebook after the collision. "What does he post to his daughters? 'I'm famous.' He doesn't post, 'I'm hurt.' He doesn't post googly gawk. Is that the right word? Confusing stuff," Owens said.
Paltrow's attorney also referenced an email about the collision from one of Sanderson's daughters saying, "I also can't believe this is all on GoPro." Sanderson said there is no GoPro footage of the collision and such a video has not surfaced as evidence.
5. A witness testified it was Paltrow who "slammed" into Sanderson
Craig Ramon, who was with Sanderson that day, described what he allegedly saw during the collision. He said she "slammed" into Sanderson's back "very hard."
"His skis, actually, the tips go out like this and he falls face down," Ramon testified. "So, he's kind of spread-eagle. And he goes facedown and Gwyneth's on the top of him."
6. Sanderson and a doctor explained his alleged cognitive issues
Dr. Wendell Gibby, a neuroradiology expert, testified Sanderson's personality changed after the accident. "He was every day doing lots of things, meet-up groups, skiing, wine tasting, volunteering for various organizations and so forth," Gibby said on the stand. "But after his accident, he deteriorated abruptly."
Gibby said Sanderson stopped many of his activities, like dancing, and "his personal interactions with his children and his grandchildren suffered."
He also said Sanderson once went to Home Depot after the collision and forgot why he was there. "And one occasion in the record, he describes having to call the police to come and pick him up because he's lost his car when he was hiking, something that hadn't happened to him before," Gibby said.
Sanderson also explained that he started having trouble remembering where he was going, blaming it on "visual memory loss" as a result of the accident. He said he now needs to use maps to find places he's gone to dozens of times before.
7. Paltrow said she didn't ask if Sanderson was hurt
During a terse exchange with Sanderson's attorney, Paltrow said she later found out that Sanderson had broken four ribs and needed to be taken down the slope in a toboggan. When VanOrman asked if Paltrow inquired if he was OK, the actress answered: "What is your name again? I'm sorry. Kristin?"
"Sorry, I was going to say, Kristin, I think you have to keep in mind when you're the victim of a crash, your psychology is not necessarily thinking about the person who perpetrated it," Paltrow said.
8. Sanderson said he broke up with his girlfriend after suffering complications from the accident
When VanOrman asked the plaintiff why he broke up with his girlfriend, he said he told her to leave him. "I knew she didn't buy into this. She didn't buy into me not being the same person coming into the relationship," Sanderson said, beginning to cry.
He said he didn't know if he would "get back to normal again." He said the breakup was sad for both of them, but his ex is now in a new relationship. "And that was the purpose, and I think better than what I would've brought, honestly. It's hard to admit that, but it's true," he said.
9. Debate over a dollar
Paltrow's attorney held up a dollar at the start of the trial – the symbolic amount Paltrow is counter-suing for.
Sanderson's attorney later referenced the gimmick, saying Paltrow didn't entirely tell the truth when she testified she was counter-suing for just a dollar. "You are also asking – and this is not for the jury to decide, but this is for the court to decide later – you're asking for your attorney's fees in this case, which could be quite substantial. Is that not true?" VanOrman asked.
Paltrow answered: "So I'm asking for $1 for me and then reimbursement of attorney's fees, which is a separate thing."
10. Paltrow was grilled about her friendship with Taylor Swift
Because Taylor Swift once sued for $1 in a 2017 groping trial against a radio station DJ, Paltrow was asked if that inspired her $1 suit.
During the trial, VanOrman referenced a 2020 deposition, during which she asked if Paltrow knew about Swift's suit – which the pop star won. Paltrow testified that she did not know about it at the time, but has since learned about it.
"OK. Are you good friends with Taylor Swift?" VanOrman asked.
Paltrow replied "no" and explained: "I would not say we're good friends. We're friendly. I've taken my kids to one of her concerts before, but we don't talk very often."
Paltrow's lawyer objected to the line of questioning, but the judge sustained.
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