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Deer Valley's Motion To Dismiss Rejected In Collision Case Involving Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow via Instagram

A Third District Court judge has rejected a motion from Deer Valley Resort to be dismissed from the skier-collision lawsuit filed against actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

Judge Kent Holmberg, in a ruling issued on Wednesday, said the allegations made against a Deer Valley ski instructor, and other staff, cannot be considered as part of the inherent risks of skiing.

A retired optometrist, Terry Sanderson, sued Paltrow earlier this year, alleging that in February of 2016, the Oscar-winning actress slammed into him and caused a concussion, among other injuries.

Sanderson’s lawsuit is also claiming Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress against the resort and ski instructor Eric Christiansen, who accompanied Paltrow and her party.

The suit claims that the instructor yelled at Sanderson, as he lay injured in the snow. Christiansen and other staff allegedly skied away and failed to call for the ski patrol or other aid. Christiansen also allegedly filed a false accident report saying Paltrow did not cause the collision.

At a hearing in early June, Deer Valley’s attorney Adam Strachan said the claim against the resort was barred by Utah’s Inherent Risk of Skiing Act, and also contended that the plaintiff only claimed emotional distress due to the resort’s actions.

Following that, Judge Holmberg noted that the legal standards of the Risk of Skiing law were just updated under a Utah Supreme Court ruling in the case of Rutherford vs. Talisker.

That’s also a Park City-related suit, dating from 2010 when a family sued the Canyons after their son was seriously injured running into a man-made berm of snow at the resort.

The judge asked counsel for Deer Valley and Sanderson for additional briefs, in light of the Rutherford ruling.

In his six-page ruling, Judge Holmberg said the Rutherford ruling established the standard is whether a risk is something a skier would reasonably expect to encounter while skiing.

Deer Valley had argued that the “screaming’ and “confrontational behavior” in the Paltrow case is a natural common reaction after a collision.

But the judge wrote that overall, including the other misbehavior alleged about the resort, the claim against Deer Valley cannot be dismissed. He wrote, “the Court is not persuaded that the behavior allegedly encountered by Sanderson is the type of risk that a skier would reasonably expect to encounter when skiing.”

When contacted by KPCW, attorney Strachan said he doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Meanwhile, the original suit also brought a counterclaim from Paltrow who alleges that Sanderson caused the collision, and he is trying to capitalize on her celebrity and wealth.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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