Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in Utah ski crash trial, saying, ‘Mr. Sanderson struck me.’

PARK CITY (AP) — Gwyneth Paltrow testified in a Park City trial Friday that she was attacked from behind while skiing at Deer Valley with her children and stepchildren in 2016.

“Mr. Sanderson punched me,” she explained. “Mr. Sanderson hit me on that ski slope categorically, and that is the truth.”

Paltrow said that skis came between hers, pulling her feet apart, and that she heard a groan from behind her. She described it as weird, and she was confused if it was a joke or an intended assault.

“I became immobile. We continued skiing. We turned to the right. We all fell down simultaneously, “She stated this in an earlier deposition, which Kristin VanOrman, one of Sanderson’s attorneys, read aloud.

Paltrow said that after “a few excellent seconds” of skiing together, she landed on his body and he was on the ground, as if they were “spooning” with his body on her back.

Terry Sanderson sued Paltrow in 2019 after saying she collided with him while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in February 2016. He believes that the effects of a concussion sustained during the incident has left him with persistent mental and emotional challenges, making it difficult for him to enjoy life and connect with people.

Sanderson was there in court to hear Paltrow’s testimony. Due to the mental effect of hearing about his health, his counsel emphasised on the first day of the trial that he would not listen to testimony from his family, friends, and physicians.

Paltrow arrived in court on Friday wearing a black jumper and skirt, a departure from the browns and greys she had been wearing for the previous three days. She was asked about her skiing ability, which she described as “intermediate,” and her knowledge of slope rules, saying that because she was hit and was not at fault, she trusted a ski instructor to leave her contact information.

Paltrow’s deposition
VanOrman questioned Paltrow about her children, wondering whether her son Moses had said “watch me” on the slopes that day. Paltrow stated that she was not participating in unsafe activity and that her children “particularly loved” the green run where the crash happened.

“I can still see my children ski and get skied right into my back by someone,” Paltrow stated in her deposition, which she read on the stand.

She claimed that her children were downhill, so she could have safely watched them, but she did not recall their asking her to. Paltrow has stated that she was not preoccupied at the moment. At another moment, she agreed that her son was somewhat behind her and to her left.

Paltrow said she did not scream when she was attacked, contrary to what prior witness Craig Ramon claimed. She froze instead. She said that after she and Sanderson were on the ground — and maybe after she had gotten up — she shouted at him, screaming that he had skied into her. She acknowledged to using vulgar language.

“Unfortunately, adrenaline and emotion can both take over,” Paltrow testified.

Paltrow stated that she does not recall Ramon arriving at the scene and does not accept his statement. She questioned how someone 40 feet away could determine which skier was whose.

In response to inquiries about why she did not remain at the scene, Paltrow stated that a ski instructor she hired, Eric Christiansen, remained and assisted Sanderson. She stated she trusted Christiansen, a Deer Valley Resort official, and he granted her permission to proceed down the hill to where her 9-year-old daughter was.

When questioned why she didn’t check whether the man was okay, Paltrow explained that “he had hit me and I was extremely upset.”

She said she was in agony in her knee and back but did not seek medical assistance. Paltrow quit skiing in a text message to a ski instructor shortly after the accident. Paltrow also stated in the text, “That man really wounded me! I’m getting a massage.”

Paltrow is asking for only $1 in her countersuit, as well as attorneys’ costs, which are bound to be substantial after four years and an eight-day trial. Paltrow testified that the $1 in harm was symbolic since the actual damage would be far more. Her attorney specifically questioned her about the money she spent on a full-day ski pass for her and her children, as well as ski instructors for her children — which she was unable to enjoy for the entire day.

Previous trial testimony
During the first several days of the trial, witnesses focused on Sanderson’s medical history and personality, as physicians and friends reviewed medical records and the strength of connections before and after the crash. His attorneys point to a substantial change in his demeanour, as well as his tendency to obsess on specific things, which witnesses say worsened after the incident.

Paltrow’s attorneys focused on Sanderson’s health concerns and medical records prior to the litigation, as well as his fixation with the lawsuit, while questioning witnesses summoned by Sanderson’s counsel.

The jury heard the conclusion of pre-recorded evidence from Richard Boehme, an expert who did a study of the collision to determine the force required for Sanderson to break four ribs. He studied many scenarios and concluded that the way the ribs are broken is a “telltale” indicator that Sanderson was hit from behind by Paltrow, because striking her would not have provided enough power to induce breaks in that manner.

Sanderson’s friend Mark Herath testified Friday about his transformation following the ski incident. He stated that following the crash, Sanderson was slower to comprehend discussion and that he can now only connect with Sanderson in tiny doses – admitting that the collision changed their relationship.

Shae Herath, Sanderson’s oldest daughter, also testified on Friday, after the testimony of her sister Polly Sanderson Grashan the day before. Her father, she claimed, was quite involved and wanted to keep up with what was going on in medical publications.

The attorneys referenced a GoPro video that was addressed in an email Sanderson wrote to his kids after the tragedy with the subject line: “I’m well-known… How much will it cost?” Nevertheless, no witnesses have stated that they witnessed or are aware of the existence of a video.

Shea Herath stated that she brought it up because she wanted her father to have the piece of mind knowing there was video evidence of the accident, not because she had seen a video of the occurrence.

“My father is really insecure. He no longer believes in his brain “stated Shae Herath.

She stated that she may have indicated a video in an email based on a phone call in which her father stated that there would most likely be a video based on the amount of people on the slopes that day.

Paltrow’s solicitor, Stephen Owens, stated just before the lunch break that a link in an email had been visited but “not the GoPro.” During the break, attorneys met with the judge to discuss it, but nothing was spoken about this Friday afternoon.

The final day for Sanderson’s counsel to bring witnesses to the stand in the Park City courtroom presided over by 3rd District Judge Kent Holmberg was Friday. Paltrow’s lawyers will have four days next week to summon witnesses, including a ski instructor and Paltrow’s two children who were on the slopes that day. Sanderson is scheduled to testify on Monday.

Both groups of attorneys are attempting to persuade a jury of four men and six women as to who was uphill immediately before the incident, with Sanderson demanding more than $300,000 from the actress.