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Gwyneth Paltrow appears in a Utah court for a trial over a 2016 ski crash

Actor Gwyneth Paltrow looks on before leaving the courtroom on Tuesday in Park City, Utah, where she is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier in 2016 and leaving him with brain damage and four broken ribs.
Rick Bowmer
/
AP
Actor Gwyneth Paltrow looks on before leaving the courtroom on Tuesday in Park City, Utah, where she is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier in 2016 and leaving him with brain damage and four broken ribs.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in a Park City courtroom on Tuesday for the start of a trial over a 2016 skiing crash in Utah.

Paltrow is accused of crashing into Terry Sanderson, causing several serious injuries and then abandoning him, while they were both skiing on a beginner run at Deer Valley Resort seven years ago.

The trial is being live streamed on YouTube.

Sanderson, a retired optometrist, filed the lawsuit in 2019, three years after the collision on the mountainside. Since then, he has alleged that the accident left him with a brain injury, four broken ribs and emotional damage. Sanderson also claimed Paltrow left the scene without giving him her name, contact information or calling for help.

Lawrence Buhler, an attorney for Sanderson, began opening arguments stating, "Distracted skiers cause crashes. Defendant Gwyneth Paltrow knew that looking up the mountain and to the side while skiing down the mountain was dangerous."

Paltrow's attorney Stephen Owens told the jury that Sanderson's claims that the actress bolted from the mountain after ramming into him were totally fabricated.

"We believe it to be utter B.S.," Owens said.

He also told the jury that the burden of proof in the case rested on Sanderson's legal team and not on the actress.

"You're going to feel sorrow for [Sanderson] but that's not why you're here. You're here to figure out if someone negligently crashed into someone or if no one did," he noted.

"Skiing comes with inherent risks," he added.

In an initial version of the suit, Sanderson sought $3.1 million in damages, KSL.com reported. But in May 2022, Third District Judge Kent Holmberg dismissed some of Sanderson's claims against Paltrow, ruling that it was not a "hit-and-run ski crash," according to the news outlet. The 76-year-old is now seeking $300,000 in damages.

Meantime, the Oscar-winning actress and entrepreneur filed her own countersuit about a month after Sanderson in 2019. In it, she recounted the events of the day, blaming him for the crash. She described him being uphill from her and her family when he suddenly plowed into her back, delivering a "full body blow." According to Paltrow, she was angry with Sanderson and he apologized.

Each party wants the other to cover their legal costs. Paltrow is seeking $1 in damages.

It is unclear if Paltrow will take the stand but her attorney told the jury some family members who were skiing with her at the time of the incident will testify.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.