US actress Gwyneth Paltrow's trial begins for Deer Valley ski crash


By AGENCY

Gwyneth Paltrow goes on trial starting Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in the Utah ski resort town of Park City where she is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier during a 2016 family sky vacation. Photo: AP

Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in court in Utah on Tuesday morning in a lawsuit filed by a retired optometrist who said that the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer violently crashed into him in 2016 while skiing at one of the most upscale ski resorts in the United States.

Terry Sanderson, 76, said Paltrow was cruising down the slopes so recklessly that they collided, leaving him on the ground as she and her entourage continued their descent down Deer Valley Resort, a skiers-only mountain known for its groomed runs, après-ski champagne yurts and posh clientele.

"Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control," Sanderson's attorneys claim in the lawsuit, "knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries. Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured.”

In a case that has lasted years, Sanderson is suing Paltrow for US$300,000 - claiming that the accident in Park City was a result of negligence, and left him with physical injuries and emotional distress. Sanderson and Paltrow both were present in the Park City courthouse on Tuesday to begin the trial that is slated to last longer than a week. A somber-looking Paltrow, wearing a beige knit, tweed harem pants and aviator-style reading glasses, shielded her face from reporters and photographers with a blue portfolio as she entered and exited the courtroom.

Park City is a mountain resort town that hosts the Sundance Film Festival, which draws a throng of celebrities each year.

At ski resorts, the skier who is downhill has the right of way, so a central question in the case is who was farther down the beginner's run when the collision transpired. Both Paltrow and Sanderson claim in court filings that they were farther downhill when the other rammed into them.

Sanderson also accused Deer Valley and its employees of engaging in a "cover up” by not providing complete information on incident reports and not following resort safety policies.

After his initial lawsuit seeking US$3.1 million was dropped, Sanderson amended the complaint and he is now seeking US$300,000. Paltrow - the Oscar-winning actor known for her roles in Shakespeare In Love and Marvel's Iron Man movies - filed a counterclaim, seeking attorney fees and US$1 in damages.

Paltrow has alleged that Sanderson was actually the culprit in the collision, is overstating his injuries, and is trying to exploit her celebrity and wealth. In addition to her acting career, she is also the founder and CEO of high-end wellness company goop.

In court filings, her attorneys deny Sanderson's claims and say he was the one who crashed into her - a collision in which she sustained a "full body blow.” Her counterclaim alleges that members of Paltrow's group checked on Sanderson, who assured them he was fine. It casts doubt on his motive and claims of injury, noting that before the incident, he had 15 documented medical conditions.

"He demanded Ms. Paltrow pay him millions. If she did not pay, she would face negative publicity resulting from his allegations,” her attorneys wrote in a 2019 court filing. – AP

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