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Paltrow takes the stand in Utah ski collision trial

Gwyneth Paltrow has entered the witness box to defend herself in a lawsuit over a 2016 ski collision that a man claims gave him lasting injuries.

March 25, 2023
By Sam Metz
25 March 2023

Gwyneth Paltrow has taken the stand to testify in a trial over a 2016 ski collision at a Utah ski resort, where a man claims that the movie star’s recklessness on the slope caused broken ribs, brain damage and lasting physical injuries.

 “I didn’t engage in risky behaviour. I wouldn’t with my children there or without my children there,” the Oscar-winning actor said when asked about the crash.

Paltrow and Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist 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 had the right of way.

The actor-turned-lifestyle influencer has said that Sanderson was responsible for the crash.

Paltrow’s testimony on Friday comes halfway into the trial and on the final afternoon Sanderson’s lawyers could compel her to testify.

Her testimony is expected to mirror what she said in a previous deposition about how she “froze” when the crash happened.

“We came crashing down together. This man was behind me on the mountain,” she said in November 2020. 

“My knee – and our skis – were still sort of tangled up. Our bodies were almost spooning and I moved away quickly. And my knee splayed open, and I was in shock.”

Paltrow’s team next week is expected to call 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 and patrons of upscale ski resorts 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 has shone a spotlight on Park City, Utah – 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 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 ageing.

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 doctor, a ski companion and his daughter, who said she noticed post-concussion symptoms less than a year after the accident.

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

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