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Lawyers in Paltrow-Sanderson suit disagree about closing court hearing

There was an unexpected twist Monday in the latest court hearing involving the ski-collision dispute between Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Salt Lake resident Terry Sanderson. 

Third District Court Judge Teresa Welch closed the hearing to the public, which has been the customary practice during the litigation.    But Sanderson’s attorney, Robert Sykes, said the hearing should be open.

The judge noted the issue being debated on Monday was whether Paltrow and her attorneys could get access to Sanderson’s private mental-health records—as part of what’s called the “discovery process.”

Despite that, Sykes contended that everything involved in the lawsuit should be public, unless there’s a very good reason to shield it.

Sanderson’s 2019 lawsuit alleges that in 2016 at Deer Valley, Paltrow was skiing out of control and collided with him, causing a brain injury and broken ribs.    Paltrow filed a counter-claim, claiming that he had slammed into her.

On Monday, Paltrow’s attorney, Stephen Owens, told the court the protective order keeping the proceedings private is needed to preserve a fair and unbiased jury, and he said, the order has done a very good job of keeping the case out of the press over the past two years.

Owens noted that Sanderson and his attorney were now arguing to expose Sanderson’s medical records to the public, while they have opposed showing them to Paltrow and her counsel.

However, an attorney for Sanderson, Peter Sorenson, said the dispute at the hearing is about access to the records, not the substance of the records.    His co-counsel, Robert Sykes, said the law prohibits secret trials and secret hearings.

Judge Welch ruled to close the hearing.   She said she was erring on the side of caution, said there were indications that sensitive information would be discussed and she added that Sanderson didn’t have the right to waive the protective order.


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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