Everything to know about Gwyneth Paltrow's ski accident trial

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow RICK BOWMER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is in court facing allegations that she recklessly caused a 2016 skiing accident. Here's everything you need to know: 

Why is Gwyneth Paltrow in court over a skiing accident?

Paltrow is being sued by Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist who alleges she crashed into him while skiing at a Utah resort in February 2016 and that he suffered serious injuries that led to the "loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement." He filed the lawsuit in 2019, seeking more than $3 million in damages, which was later reduced to $300,000.

The actress countersued for $1 in damages, claiming that Sanderson is the one who crashed into her but that he "nonetheless blamed her for it in an attempt to exploit her celebrity and wealth."

What does Sanderson say?

Sanderson's attorney Lawrence Buhler alleged in an opening statement that Paltrow was recklessly skiing down a mountain at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah while looking up and to the side, causing her to crash into Sanderson before she bolted away from the scene. Her "conscious disregard for other people on the mountain" led Sanderson "to suffer four broken ribs and permanent brain damage," causing changes in his personality, the attorney claimed. "Before this crash, Terry was a charming, outgoing, gregarious person," Buhler added. "... But after the crash, he's no longer charming."

What does Paltrow say?

Paltrow's attorney, Steve Owens, told jurors that Sanderson "ran square right into" her and that when she told him this, he responded, "I'm sorry." Owens also alleged that Paltrow was the one "hurt by" Sanderson's "negligence" and that the confusion, memory issues, and "strained relationships" he has suffered since are due to "normal aging" and "pre-existing problems," not the accident. Paltrow's team has also sought to undermine Sanderson's credibility by noting that he emailed his daughter "I'm famous" after the accident.

What testimony have jurors heard so far?

Craig Ramon, an eyewitness and friend of Sanderson's, testified that he heard a scream before looking over and seeing Paltrow "slam into the back of" Sanderson "very hard." He added that she left the scene without giving her information or asking if Sanderson was okay. Next, Teresa Davidson, Sanderson's ex-girlfriend, testified that he "looked like a truck had hit him" following the accident. Before, "Terry was a joyful person," but after the accident, "his joy was gone," she said.

Dr. Wendell Gibby, a radiologist, told jurors that Sanderson "deteriorated abruptly" after the accident and exhibited "typical hallmarks of someone who has had a traumatic brain injury." It wouldn't be "plausible" that Sanderson would have "broken the ribs on the side of his chest" if he ran into Paltrow, Gibby argued. Dr. Sam Goldstein, a neuropsychologist, said that while Sanderson "may have had pre-existing issues," there was an "acute, adverse change in his behavioral and emotional functioning" after the accident. In a video deposition, neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong said that Sanderson suffered from cognitive issues and experienced personality changes after the accident. Sanderson's daughter, Polly Sanderson-Grasham, also testified that after the crash, her father's "processing speed" slowed down, and she realized that "something's terribly wrong."

The trial is ongoing, and Paltrow, her husband, and their children are expected to testify.

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