Actor Gwyneth Paltrow took the witness stand in a Park City trial Friday and testified that she was hit from behind while skiing at Deer Valley in 2016 with her children and stepchildren.
"Mr. Sanderson hit me," she said. "Mr. Sanderson categorically hit me on that ski slope, and that is the truth."
Paltrow said skis came between hers, pushing her feet apart and she heard a groan from the person behind her. She said it was very strange and she was unsure if it was a joke or an intentional assault.
"I froze. We kept skiing. We went to the right. We came crashing down together," she said in previous deposition, which was read by Kristin VanOrman, one of Sanderson's attorneys.
Paltrow said after skiing together for "a few good seconds," she fell on his body and he was on the ground — like they were "spooning" with his body against her back.
Terry Sanderson filed a lawsuit in 2019 claiming Paltrow ran into him while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in February 2016. He claims the aftermath of a concussion that occurred during the crash has caused him ongoing mental and emotional issues and made it harder for him to enjoy life and connect with others.
Sanderson was in the courtroom to hear Paltrow's testimony. His attorneys explained on the first day of the trial that he would not listen to testimony from his family, friends and doctors, due to the mental impact of hearing about his health.
Paltrow, wearing a black sweater and skirt to court on Friday, a change from the browns and grays she wore during the previous three days, was initially asked about her skiing ability, which she called "intermediate" and about her knowledge of rules on the slopes, saying since she was hit and was not at fault, she trusted a ski instructor to leave her contact information.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s testimony
VanOrman questioned Paltrow about her children — asking her whether her son Moses had said "watch me" that day on the slopes. Paltrow said she was not engaging in risky behavior, and that her children "especially like" the green run they were on when the collision occurred.
"I can still watch my children ski and be skied directly into my back by someone, which is what happened," Paltrow said in her deposition, which she read at the stand.
She explained her children were downhill, so she could have watched them safely, but does not recall them asking for her to watch them. Paltrow said she was not distracted at the time.
Paltrow said she did not scream when she was hit, as a previous witness Craig Ramon had said. Instead, she froze. She said it was after she and Sanderson were on the ground — and maybe after she had gotten up — when she yelled towards him, shouting that he skied into her.
Paltrow said she does not remember Ramon coming to the scene, and that she does not believe his testimony. She said she doubts how someone 40 feet away could tell which person in ski gear was which.
Prior testimony in the trial
Friday is the final day scheduled for Sanderson's attorneys to call witnesses to the stand in the Park City courtroom overseen by 3rd District Judge Kent Holmberg. Next week, Paltrow's attorneys have four days to call witnesses — including a ski instructor and Paltrow's two children who were on the slopes that day. Both groups of attorneys are seeking to convince a jury comprised of four men and six women which person was uphill just before the crash — with Sanderson seeking over $300,000 from the actress.
Paltrow is seeking only $1 in her countersuit and attorneys fees, which are sure to be hefty after four years and an eight-day trial.
Over the first few days of the trial, testimony has centered around Sanderson's medical history and personality — as doctors and friends have discussed medical records and the quality of relationships from before and after the crash. His attorneys point out a significant change in behavior, and his tendencies to fixate on certain things, which witnesses said got worse following the incident.
Paltrow's attorneys, when questioning the witnesses called by Sanderson's attorneys, focused on Sanderson's health conditions and medical records from before the lawsuit and his obsession with the lawsuit.
Friday morning, the jury heard the end of a pre-recorded testimony from Richard Boehme, an expert who conducted an analysis of the crash looking at the force that would be needed for Sanderson to break four ribs. He considered multiple different circumstances and said the way the ribs are broken is a "telltale" sign that Sanderson was hit from behind by Paltrow, because him hitting her would not have given enough force to cause breaks in that way.
Mark Herath, a friend of Sanderson's, testified Friday about his change after the ski collision. He said Sanderson was slower to digest conversation afterward, and now he can only interact with Sanderson in small doses — admitting the collision altered their relationship.
Sanderson's oldest daughter, Shae Herath, also testified Friday following testimony from her sister Polly Sanderson Grashan the day before. She said her dad was very engaged and liked to stay up to date with what was happening in medical journals.
Multiple times, the attorneys talked about a GoPro video mentioned in an email Sanderson sent to his daughters after the crash with the subject line: "I'm famous ... At what cost?" But no witnesses have said they saw or know of the existence of a video.
Shea Herath said she wanted her dad to have the peace of mind that there was video footage of the accident, which is why she brought it up, not because she had seen a video of the incident.
"My dad is very insecure. … He doesn't trust his brain anymore," Shae Herath said.
She said she may have mentioned something about a video in an email based on a phone conversation in which her father said there likely would be a video based on the number of people who were on the slopes that day.
Right before the lunch recess began, Paltrow's attorney, Stephen Owens, said a link in an email had been accessed, but "not the GoPro." Attorneys were meeting with the judge during the break to discuss it.