Gwyneth Paltrow faces trial in Park City for hit and run in a skiing accident

Movie star Gwyneth Paltrow will stand trial in Park City starting Tuesday for allegations that she collided with a man while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in 2016, then left the scene and left the injured man lying in the snow.

Paltrow was skiing down the resort’s “Bandana” beginner’s slope under the guidance of a ski instructor when a Summit County lawsuit found she had “spun out of control” and plowed in the back of Terry Sanderson, who was skiing downhill from her.

The hit-and-run skiing accident left the retired optometrist with a brain injury, a concussion, four broken ribs and other serious injuries, the complaint said. He was 69 years old at the time of the crash.

The complaint also names Deer Valley Resort and three Deer Valley employees as co-defendants.

Sanderson’s allegations

The crash involving Sanderson and Paltrow occurred on February 26, 2016. Almost three years later, Sanderson sued Paltrow in January 2019.

On the day of the crash, Sanderson was skiing with some acquaintances, he said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. Driving down the resort’s “Bandana” run, Sanderson noticed a couple of large “slow down” signs, he said, so he slowed down while maintaining the flow of downhill traffic.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City attorney Robert Sykes, right, filed a lawsuit in 2019 against Gwyneth Paltrow, who is accused of causing a skiing accident in which the plaintiff injured Terry Sanderson, center became.

That’s when he heard a “hysterical scream,” he said, which sounded like nothing he’d ever heard before.

“It was just momentary,” Sanderson said at the time. “I was hit in the back. … It felt like it just propelled me.”

Upon impact, he remembered not being able to control himself and his body went down, he said. “And that’s all I remember up to this point — just get out.”

The lawsuit initially sought $3.1 million in damages, but the lawsuit was later amended to seek an “amount to be proven in court.”

Paltrow’s allegations

Paltrow acknowledged the crash in a countersuit filed Feb. 20, 2019, seeking “token damages” of $1 plus attorneys’ fees. The document states that Paltrow will donate the money recovered to charity.

In her counterclaim, Paltrow claimed that Sanderson did in fact hit her — and that he was the uphill skier in the fall. She also accused Sanderson of trying to “exploit her celebrity and wealth.”

Paltrow said she suffered a full-body “strike” when Sanderson collided with her, the counter-suspect states. She told Sanderson that she was angry with him, and he apologized, but Paltrow was still “shaken and upset,” according to the counterclaim, noting that she did not ski again that day.

Deer Valley follows the National Ski Areas Association’s Code of Responsibility, which states that downhill skiers have the right-of-way—but all skiers must remain in control at all times and be able to stop to avoid people.

Although Sanderson said that Paltrow and Deer Valley employees drove away from him after the crash, Paltrow argued that Sanderson said he was fine when an instructor checked on him.

Their counterclaim says the same employee — identified as Eric Christensen, who is named as a co-defendant in the complaint — prepared a report finding that Sanderson was responsible for the crash, as he “recorded it.” [Paltrow] out from behind.”

Sanderson’s lawsuit alleges that this employee did not see the crash and that the statements in the employee’s report are false.

The injury

Paltrow’s counterclaim alleges Sanderson’s injuries were overstated — because an evaluation with his doctor after the crash showed no deficits in cognitive function, the filing claims.

Medical records show a diagnosis of “mild” concussion, the counterclaim says, and that Sanderson has vacationed internationally for “extended periods” since the collision.

Sanderson also had 15 other chronic medical problems, the counterclaim states, and had told his doctor a year earlier that he was blind in his right eye and that his vision was decreasing in his left eye.

“She did not strike him,” the counterclaim states, “or give him a concussion, a brain injury, or a broken rib.”

During his 2019 press conference, Sanderson said he had to be driven down the rest of the slope by a ski patrol sled because an acquaintance noted that Sanderson seemed to have forgotten how to ski.

“I kept thinking, ‘I hope my head is straight and my neck is okay,'” Sanderson said during the press conference. “Fortunately, I had friends who supported me and called me and checked on me and helped me and in some cases stayed with me because I was sitting in a chair and couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t function. And so I got so tired that I would go to bed.”

Sanderson said during the press conference that he was still coming to terms with the long-term effects of the crash. Others close to him noticed a change in his personality after his injury, he said.

“You know, I’ve been skiing for over 30 years. I’ve never knocked anyone down and hurt them. I’ve never been knocked out or hurt,” Sanderson said. “They’re trying to turn history around. It’s like I’m a little bit proud of the truth and I think maybe that’s why I want to move forward.

The civil trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in Park City District Court. It should last eight days, said a court spokesman. Gwyneth Paltrow faces trial in Park City for hit and run in a skiing accident

Justin Scaccy

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