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Gwyneth Paltrow set to take the stand in civil case over 'hit-and-run' ski crash

2 months ago
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A somber Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in court in Park City, Utah, on Tuesday for the first day of an eight-day trial over an alleged 'hit-and-run' ski accident in 2016. 

The actress, 50, was seen stepping out of a black SUV and bundled up in a long coat, shades and $1,200 Celine lace-up boots, keeping her head down as she walked into Park City District Court on Tuesday. 

Dr. Terry Sanderson, 76, who was seen entering court today with a face mask on, sued the Oscar-winning actress in January 2019 and alleged she crashed into the back of him and abandoned the scene at the exclusive Deer Valley resort in February 2016.

He also says her ski guide Daniel Christiansen filed a false report of the incident to spare Paltrow’s blushes - despite not seeing the crash - and says he was left with multiple injuries. Sanderson sued over the incident in 2019 - with Paltrow then filing a counterclaim that said he was responsible for the crash and asking for nominal damages of $1. 

For the opening day of the trial, Gwyneth Paltrow wore a cream roll neck sweater and pale wide-leg pants

Paltrow arrived at court in Utah for the trial over a 2016 'hit-and-run' ski accident

The actress was seen stepping out of a black SUV and bundled up in a long coat and shades, keeping her head down as she walked into Park City District Court on Tuesday

Dr. Terry Sanderson, who was seen entering court today with a face mask on, sought damages in excess of $3.1 million after the accident left him with a 'permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement'

For the opening day of the trial, the actress wore a cream roll neck sweater and pale wide-leg pants, and made her way into court without speaking to media. 

While waiting for the jury to file in, Paltrow, who has insisted that it was Sanderson who skied into her and that he was the uphill skier in the crash, sat quietly facing Judge Kent Holmberg's seat and conferred briefly with her legal team. 

Paltrow, who was also wearing a pair of large 70s-style reading glasses, bent intently over her notes while Judge Holmberg read out a lengthy list of jury instructions.

Lawrence Buhler, the lead attorney for Terry Sanderson, opened the trial by telling the jury: 'Distracted skiers cause crashes. Defendant Gwyneth Paltrow knew that looking up the mountain and up to the side was dangerous.

'She knew that if she continued to ski that way, if she kept looking up to the side, someone would get seriously hurt. She knew what she was doing was dangerous and she knew it was reckless.'

He added that his client suffered four broken ribs and permanent brain damage following the smash before going on to outline the rules of skiing, including that those taking part in the sport should always yield the right of way to those below and keep their eyes forward.

During the opening statement, Buhler told the jury that Paltrow had been skiing with nine people, including her husband Brad Falchuk and their children on the day of the crash.

With the group on Bandana Mountain were four ski instructors - among them Paltrow's co-defendant Eric Christiansen.

Meanwhile, Sanderson was there with a meet-up group that included a man named Greg Ramone, who Buhler said is the only witness to the crash.

He added: 'At the top of Bandana - one of Ms. Paltrow's children says, 'mommy, mommy, watch me ski!' They go to the left. Gwyneth Paltrow goes to the right.

'She looks up to see her children and as she looks down, she screams. She skis into the back of Terry Sanderson.

'Sanderson is face down in the snow unconscious.'

According to Buhler, Ramone saw the crash and its aftermath - with Christiansen skiing over to the prone Sanderson and repeatedly screaming 'what did you do?'

He said Ramone had asked Paltrow if she was OK but was ignored, with the actress then sliding 'a few feet away'.

Buhler said Sanderson then groaned and complained of pain in his ribs - after which a silent Paltrow took off down the mountain.

Sanderson was allegedly so disoriented by the crash, he didn't know where he was when asked by Ramone and had to be carried off the mountain by Ski Patrol.

He was later taken to an Instacare center in Park City and was told to go to ER the following day.

Paltrow in a social media post the year before the accident at Deer Valley resort in Utah. She captioned the post: '20 years later and I still got it #justlikeridingabike'

Terry Sanderson (pictured) filed a lawsuit in January 2019 in Utah claiming that Gwyneth Paltrow broke four of his ribs and left him with brain damage after a ski crash 

The trial over the incident at Deer Valley Resort begins today at Park City District Court

Sanderson sought damages in excess of $3.1 million after the accident left him with a 'permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement'. 

A judge dismissed Sanderson's original claim of hit-and-run and the Utah Resort and Paltrow's instructor were removed from the lawsuit and it is now a $300,000 claim solely against the actress.

Paltrow is countersuing for 'symbolic damages' of $1 plus her legal fees. 

She accused Sanderson of trying to 'exploit her celebrity and wealth' with the accident in which she sustained a full-body blow when he collided with her. 

Paltrow told Sanderson she was angry with him and he apologized to her but she was left 'shaken and upset' by the incident and stopped skiing that day, the lawsuit states.

'I heard this hysterical scream and instantaneous I got hit in the back,' Sanderson said at a press conference when he originally filed the lawsuit in 2019.

'It was just instantaneous, I got hit in my back. It felt like it had just drove me forward.'

In his original lawsuit, he accused her of getting up and skiing away without checking on him or offering assistance following the crash

Sanderson claimed that her instructor, identified as Eric Christiansen, soon came over and informed the injured man that the incident was his fault and then also skied off.

He says in the complaint that neither Paltrow nor the instructor alerted ski patrol after abandoning him, and he was left stranded and alone with brain damage and four broken ribs on the side of the mountain.

'This case involves a hit-and-run ski crash at Deer Valley, Utah, where Defendant Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control and hit the back of Terry Sanderson, another skier, who was downhill, knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries,' stated the legal filing.

'Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured.'

That is when a ski instructor came over and derided Sanderson claims the filing, despite the fact that he did not see the crash.

'He also failed to send help, as he was obligated to do, and later filed a false report to protect his client, Ms. Paltrow,' states the filing.

'Neither Ms. Paltrow nor Deer Valley lodge personnel notified emergency responders about the injured Dr. Sanderson. They left him at the scene with serious brain injuries caused by Ms. Paltrow.'

Paltrow, who was snapped one day after the accident having dinner in Park City, is seeking 'symbolic damages' of $1 plus her legal fees in her countersuit, filed in February 2019

He sought damages in excess of $3.1 million after the accident but a judge dismissed his original claim of hit-and-run and it is now a $300,000 claim against Paltrow

A sign directing skiers to the Bandana trail where the incident happened 

View from the top: Paltrow was skiing down the Bandana trail (above) with friends and family

But Paltrow alleged that Sanderson said he was okay when Christiansen checked on him and stated that the instructor prepared a report which determined that Sanderson was at fault for the incident.

Her counterclaim insists that the retired doctor's injuries were overstated and an examination with a doctor did not show any deficits in cognitive functioning.

Medical records at the time reveal a diagnosis of a 'mild' concussion, according to the lawsuit and that he vacationed internationally for 'extended periods of time' after the accident.

And Sanderson has 15 other chronic medical issues and a year earlier told his doctor he was blind in his right eye and the vision in his left eye was decreasing, according to the documents.

'She did not knock him down,' the counterclaim states, 'or cause him to suffer a concussion, brain injury, or broken ribs.'

Paltrow was skiing down the resort's Bandana beginner run with the guidance of a ski instructor at the time of the incident.

She was allegedly rushing down the mountain to grab lunch at the Montage Lodge at Deer Valley according to Sanderson's complaint.

Deer Valley adheres to the National Ski Areas Association responsibility code which states that skiers going downhill have right of way but that everyone must stay in control and be able to stop and avoid others.

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