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‘Utter B.S.’: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Lawyer Blasts 2016 Utah Ski Collision Civil Case Allegations

“Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control,” Terry Sanderson’s lawyers alleged in a civil suit seeking $300,000 from the “Shakespeare In Love” actress.

By Dorian Geiger
Gwyneth Paltrow's Trial Begins

Gwyneth Paltrow’s lawyer criticized civil charges brought against her by an elderly optometrist who accused the Oscar-winning actress of ramming him on a Utah ski hill in 2016 as “utter B.S.”

Terry Sanderson, 76, is seeking $300,000 in damages related to injuries and emotional distress he allegedly suffered after Paltrow collided with him while skiing down the slopes of Utah’s upscale Deer Valley Resort seven years ago. 

The resort, located in the Rocky Mountain retreat community of Park City, is known for hosting the annual Sundance Film Festival, which draws a rotating cast of Hollywood A-listers and more.

Sanderson and Paltrow were both present at a Park City courthouse on Tuesday, March 31 for the trial’s opening day. Paltrow, appearing stoic, donned a beige sweater, tweed harem pants and aviator glasses, according to the Associated Press. She carried a notebook, which bore her initials.

Many of the jurors were seen visibly smiling when they entered the courtroom to hear arguments on Tuesday, an observation the Associated Press attributed to Paltrow’s celebrity status.

At the heart of the case is who actually had the right of way on the Deer Valley ski hill. According to Utah law, the skier the furthest downslope has the right of way — and all other approaching skiers should yield to them. 

In opening statements, counsel for both Paltrow and Sanderson disputed the other’s account of the incident, with both claiming they had the right of way when the collision occurred.

Sanderson has accused Paltrow of negligence and of recklessly barrelling into him mid-slope while rocketing down the side of a mountain with her entourage. His lawyers, who sought to punctuate Sanderson’s military service in opening statements, noted that he received medical care at a V.A. hospital, the Associated Press reported.

Both teams presented their clients as seasoned and attentive skiers. 

“Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control, knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries,” Sanderson’s legal team alleged in the case’s lawsuit. “Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured.”

Sanderson’s lawyers also attempted to paint Paltrow as a wealthy and privileged woman who has used her celebrity status to skirt responsibility in the incident. 

“She hires multiple ski instructors for her children, which allows them to skip the lines," Sanderson's attorney, Lawrence Buhler, said. "Private instructors cost thousands of dollars per day."

Meanwhile, Paltrow’s attorneys honed in on Sanderson’s advanced age and his past medical history involving traumatic brain injuries which pre-date his alleged collision with the actress. They said Paltrow approached Sanderson after the incident and that the retired eye doctor told her he was fine, in addition to apologizing. Sanderson doesn’t deny the interaction but said he has no memory of it, per case court filings.

Paltrow's lawyer, Steve Owens, also highlighted an image Sanderson had uploaded online showing a “very happy, smiling picture” of himself as he was rushed downslope on a sled for medical treatment. 

“His memories of the case get better over the years,” Owens added. “That’s all I’m gonna say. That’s not how memory works.”

The case has dragged on in the civil courts for years. Sanderson had previously sought $3.1 million in damages from Paltrow through a January 2019 lawsuit, however, after a judge dismissed his claim, he amended the complaint, instead seeking $300,000. Paltrow has also accused Sanderson of attempting to cash in on her celebrity stature in search of a payday for an accident that was far less serious than he’s presented it.

“He demanded Ms. Paltrow pay him millions,” Paltrow’s lawyers stated in a 2019 court filing. “If she did not pay, she would face negative publicity resulting from his allegations.” 

Paltrow previously filed a counterclaim against Sanderson seeking compensation for attorney fees as well as $1 in damages. Her attorney stated that additional funds would be donated to charity if awarded.

The civil trial is expected to span a week.

Paltrow, who has pivoted into podcasting and lifestyle influencing, has been heavily scrutinized in recent years for her sometimes controversial wellness practices and products she pushes and sells. In 2018, Paltrow slapped with a six-figure consumer protection settlement after her company Goop allegedly made false claims related to the supposed health benefits of two vaginal eggs, as well as an essential oil mixture the company markets. 

More recently, Paltrow has been widely criticized for promoting rectal ozone therapy, her latest wellness hack, which has drawn the concern of health officials.