Crash Case: Details Of The Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Accident Trial

Paltrow and Terry Sanderson offer two very different sides of the story.

The famous actress and lifestyle entrepreneur has been accused of crashing into a retired optometrist during a 2016 ski accident in Park City, Utah. Skiing, like most kinds of thrilling sports, comes with its fair share of accidents. So much so that there are lawyers who specialize in handling these kinds of mishaps. However, such cases don’t usually involve skier-skier or skier-snowboarder collisions; many of them are simply a result of victims crashing into obstacles. 

According to an article from CBS News, of the reported 57 accidents during the 2021 to 2022 ski season, the National Ski Areas Association confirmed that a majority involved skiers colliding with trees. This wasn’t the case for popular celebrity and businesswoman, Gwyneth Paltrow. 

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of Goop
Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of Goop/Photo via Instagram @gwynethpaltrow

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Many know the 50-year-old star as the leading lady of hit movies like Marvel’s Iron Man and 1998’s Shakespeare in Love. She is also the founder of multi-million dollar lifestyle brand, Goop. The famous personality has made recent headlines due to a charge filed against her by former optometrist, Terry Sanderson. 

The 2016 Accident

Sanderson, age 76, has sued Paltrow for crashing into him and neglecting to call for help afterwards. According to the retired professional’s family members, doctors, and lawyers, he was left with “life-altering” afflictions after the accident, including four broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury. 

Gwyneth Paltrow and Terry Sanderson
L-R: Paltrow and Sanderson/Photo via Instagram @thebeetalks

Sanderson is seeking $300,000 in damages, while Paltrow denied the charges and countersued for $1 with compensation for attorney’s fees. Although the case itself seems simple enough, Paltrow and Sanderson offer two very different sides of the story, neither of which can be confirmed nor denied at the moment. 

Contending Narratives

According to Sanderson’s doctors, the 76-year-old has been struggling with detrimental health effects from the accident. Neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong shared that Sanderson experienced symptoms of a concussion for a year and a half since she first met him in 2017. 

Dr. Wendell Gibby—the neuroradiologist who examined the man’s medical records—bolstered this evidence by stating that the intelligent Sanderson lost “the ability to function at a high level.” Gibby added that the retired optometrist has been dealing with “an abrupt change of personality,” which greatly impacts his interpersonal relationships and behavior. His lawyers and daughters attest that the man who was once “outgoing” and “gregarious” is now “agitated” and “easily frustrated.” 

According to Sanderson, Paltrow recklessly crashed into him from above a beginner ski slope at the Deer Valley Resort, as she was distracted by her son (Moses Martin) calling for her attention. He also claims that she left him “lying in the snow” afterwards without asking for assistance. 

Paltrow’s perspective tells a different story, as the actress stated that it was Sanderson who collided with her from behind. She shared that his skis appeared between her own, and that she felt his body pressed behind hers right before the crash. 

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow in court/Photo via Instagram @usatoday

The 50-year-old said that she felt “hurt and violated,” and didn’t call for help as she thought the accident was a relatively minor one. Paltrow came out of the incident with a sore knee, but no other injuries. Her lawyers also raise the possibility that Sanderson’s symptoms may be caused by age and several pre-existing medical conditions from a previous stroke. 

Paltrow’s ski instructor, Eric Christiansen—who has worked in Deer Valley Resort for almost four decades—supported the celebrity’s statement, sharing that Sanderson was “coming much faster than anybody else on the slope coming down on the hill.” 

An animated recreation of the crash showed Paltrow lying atop Sanderson after the collision, which Christiansen said could only happen if she had been hit from behind

Paltrow’s claims were rebuffed by Dr. Wendell Gibby, who argued that the symptoms experienced by Sanderson are not ones typically brought about by his pre-existing conditions. 

What’s more, 58-year-old Craig Ramone—the sole eyewitness of the event and an acquaintance of Sanderson—stated that he saw Paltrow hit Sanderson “directly in the back.” According to Ramone, he saw the man lying “facedown, spreadeagle, with Gywneth on top of him” before the actress left him unresponsive in the scene. 

The Final Verdict

A GoPro camera is said to have captured the event in full; unfortunately, neither it nor its footage has been found. This makes deciding on the final verdict particularly difficult, as it was the “most important piece” of evidence that could show who crashed into whom. 

Given the mysterious circumstances behind the camera’s disappearance, the final judgment greatly hinges upon who the jury believes had the right of way. In skiing, this usually applies to the “downhill” skier, or the person who is located further down the slope. In general, it’s the “uphill” skier’s responsibility to be vigilant of downhill skiers and practice extreme caution.

Both Paltrow and Sanderson claim to be the downhill skier in this case; hopefully, further investigation into the incident will eventually reveal the truest version of the story.

Banner Photo via Instagram @gwynethpaltrow.

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