Gwyneth Paltrow: who’s who in the ski accident trial involving the actress

Gwyneth Paltrow: who’s who in the ski accident trial involving the actress

Sam Cabral

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is being tried for a skiing accident that occurred in 2016 in the state of Utah, in the United States. A retired optometrist claims he was run over by the Oscar-winning actress on the runway of a resort and suffers “loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement”.

Terry Sanderson, now 76, says Paltrow was distracted and was responsible for the accident. He asks for US$ 300,000 (about R$ 1.5 million) in compensation. Initially, he requested US$ 3.1 million (R$ 16 million) for what he considers a “hit and run” case, but that first lawsuit, from 2019, was filed in May of last year.

Paltrow, 50, denies the allegation and is seeking symbolic compensation of $1 plus reimbursement of court costs. The civil trial revolved around the testimony of the many characters in the case or who were named. Learn more about them:


Terry Sanderson, 76, says he was run over by the actress

Terry Sanderson, 76, says he was run over by the actress – EPA

The retired optometrist, who says he has never been injured in more than 30 years skiing, accuses the actress of having been “reckless” and hit him from behind on a slope for beginner skiers at the upscale Deer Valley Resort in western Utah.

Sanderson’s lawyers allege that Paltrow was distracted by her children and fell on top of him, leaving him “lying in the snow” without asking for help. He claims the crash, which took place in February 2016, left him unconscious and caused a brain injury and four broken ribs.


Movie star and current health and lifestyle influencer, Paltrow denies the elderly man’s version and claims that he was the one who crashed into her back while she was skiing. When testifying last Friday (24/3), the actress said that she was going down a hill when she saw a pair of skis appear between hers, heard “strange grunts” and felt a body hitting her from behind.

Her first impression was that she was being sexually abused, because they fell to the ground together, with their skis tangled, and were “almost cupping.” Paltrow told the court that she shouted profanities at Sanderson and didn’t ask if he was okay because she felt “hurt and violated”. The accident left Paltrow with a sore knee but no other injuries.

Her lawyers argue that Sanderson filed the lawsuit because Paltrow is a celebrity. They also claim that the accident was due to Sanderson’s pre-existing medical conditions, including hearing and vision loss due to a stroke.


Two of Sanderson’s daughters – Polly Sanderson-Grasham and Shae Herath – testified last week. They claim that their father changed significantly after the accident. Sanderson-Grasham said a once “extroverted” and “gregarious” man is now “agitated” and “easily frustrated”.

Tearfully, she recounted one episode in particular where her father looked so upset that “it looked like drool was going to dribble out of his mouth.” She claimed to know that something was “terribly wrong” with Sanderson. She also said her father became “obsessed” with getting an apology from Paltrow.

On Friday, Paltrow’s lawyers questioned Herath about emails exchanged with her father. In an email with the subject line “I’m famous… At what cost?” Sanderson said it was “nice” to bump into a celebrity.

The daughter, for her part, stated that Sanderson became “very insecure” and “doesn’t trust her brain anymore”, adding that her daughter no longer wanted to be around her grandfather because he mistreated her with words. “This is not my father. This is an alternate version of my father,” she said.

Shae Herath, Sanderson's daughter, testified last week

Shae Herath, Sanderson's daughter, testified last week

Shae Herath, Sanderson’s daughter, testified last week – EPA


The defense will call Paltrow’s two children with Coldplay singer Chris Martin – Apple, 18, and Moses, 16 – as well as her current husband, Brad Falchuk, to the stand this week. The court heard that the actress arranged the ski trip so her children could “meet in” with Falchuk, a TV producer and writer whom she married in 2018.

Paltrow said she paid more than $9,000 for private ski lessons at the resort that day. Sanderson’s lawyers claim that Moses, then 9, yelled “Mommy, Mommy, look at me” and his mother cocked her head to the side before the accident occurred.


Sanderson’s lawyers have summoned four doctors to testify as experts to support their version.

Neuropsychologist Alina Fong said Sanderson had “battled concussion symptoms for a year and a half” when she first saw him in May 2017. Symptoms included “mood and personality changes, body aches and headaches” that “completely changed her life,” she said.

Sam Goldstein, another neuropsychologist, reported that Sanderson’s problems were “the kind of things you understand better if you follow someone for two weeks.”

Wendell Gibby, a neuroradiologist who reviewed Sanderson’s medical history, described him as an intelligent man who had clearly lost “the ability to function at a high level”. He added that “the abrupt change in his behavior and his ability to interact with people was not something caused by his pre-existing conditions.”


The collision was reportedly captured on a GoPro camera, but the footage was not found or included as evidence at trial.

Paltrow’s legal team regards the video as “the most important piece of evidence” for the trial, which would prove that she was positioned lower than Sanderson on the descent and thus – under ski rules – had the right of way.

It’s unclear why the footage, if it actually existed, disappeared – but there was at least one eyewitness account of the crash.

Craig Ramone, 58, an acquaintance of Sanderson, told the court last week that they were skiing together when he heard a scream and saw Paltrow “hit [em Sanderson] directly on the back”.

The accident left his friend “face down with Gwyneth on top of him”. According to him, the actress managed to extricate herself and ran from the scene while her friend was lying down without responding.

-This text was originally published here.

Source: Folha

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