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Gwyneth Paltrow takes the stand in ski crash civil trial

Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in ski crash lawsuit
Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in Utah ski crash lawsuit 02:03

Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand Friday to testify in a civil trial over a 2016 ski collision. Paltrow is being sued by a retired optometrist who is suing her over injuries suffered in the mishap, and each has accused the other of causing the collision.

Paltrow testified that at first, she thought the accident was a "sexual assault" or a "practical joke" when Terry Sanderson skied into her back. She said two skis slid right between her legs and her skis. She felt a body "press against my back" she said before the two skiers fell to the ground. "He was groaning and grunting in a disturbing way," Paltrow testified. She clarified that she didn't think the collision was an assault but that was the thought that went through her head during that split second.

She remembered pushing him away and she turned around and yelled at Sanderson, she said. "I was very angry at what at happened," she said. On the stand, Paltrow apologized for screaming profanity at him for skiing into her. Throughout her testimony, Paltrow repeatedly said that Sanderson crashed into her while his attorney tried to discredit her recollection. Paltrow testified she didn't know Sanderson was injured and didn't ask about his well-being because she thought the accident was a relatively "minor" incident. 

The civil suit stems from a 2016 incident at Deer Valley Resort in which the two collided on a ski slope. Sanderson, 76, broke four ribs in the crash and originally sued Paltrow for more than $3 million, which was reduced to $300,000 in damages, claiming she was "out of control" and skied into him. Paltrow, 50, is countersuing for $1 and attorney's fees, claiming Sanderson caused the crash.

Attorneys for both sides have tried to establish whether Sanderson or Paltrow was the uphill skier — a point of etiquette on slopes that could also determine who is at fault

During questioning from her attorney, Paltrow put on her brown thick-framed glasses to see the exhibition he presented. The exhibition was a report submitted to the resort by her ski instructor that stated that Paltrow was skied into. Paltrow agreed with that assessment and said that she didn't see Sanderson before the crash. Throughout her testimony, Paltrow maintained she didn't see Sanderson before he allegedly skied into her. The attorney asked if she was sure nothing was obstructing her vision at the time, "I still have 20-20," she answered although she "needed reading glasses." 

The first few days of testimony in what is expected to be an eight-day trial have also focused on Sanderson's health. Witnesses, including his doctor and his daughter, have testified about medical problems, including brain injury symptoms. 

Gwyneth Paltrow Skiing Lawsuit
Gwyneth Paltrow enters the courtroom for her trial, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Park City, Utah, where she is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier during a 2016 family ski vacation, leaving him with brain damage and four broken ribs. Rick Bowmer / AP

Friday's testimony opened with continued testimony from neurologist Dr. Richard Boehme, who continued his expert testimony from Thursday via video about Sanderson's previous brain injury and post-concussion symptoms. 

Next was a longtime friend and fellow avid skier Mark Herath, who testified that after the accident, Sanderson, who had been "a great conversationalist," became confused and unable to follow conversations and frustrated and angry as a result. He also became paranoid, Herath testified, which affected their friendship.

"You can only take Terry in small doses now," he said.

Paltrow's attorneys have also questioned whether there is GoPro video of the collision, asking Sanderson's daughter about emails between the two discussing the footage. Paltrow, an Oscar winner who founded the wellness company Goop, has alleged her celebrity helped motivate the lawsuit.

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