Gwyneth Paltrow accuser testifies in ski trial: ‘I’ve never been hit that hard’
By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN
The Utah civil trial involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow and a man who is accusing her of wrongdoing in relation to a 2016 ski collision resumed Monday for its second week of proceedings.
Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist who is suing Paltrow, testified on Monday that he “was skiing easy” and “paying attention” prior to the collision with Paltrow, which happened at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
“I just remember everything was great and then I heard something I’ve never heard at a ski resort and that was a blood-curdling scream … and then boom,” he said. “It was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die. And that’s what I had until I was hit.”
He went on to describe the impact.
“I got hit in my back so hard and right at my shoulder blades and it felt like it was perfectly centered and the fists and the poles were right at the bottom of my shoulder blades, serious, serious smack and I’ve never been hit that hard,” Sanderson continued. “All I saw was a whole lot of snow.”
Sanderson disputed suggestions he sued Paltrow to exploit her fame and wealth.
“I thought, ‘I’m not into celebrity worship,'” Sanderson told the jury about learning she was the other skier involved in their collision.
Craig Ramon, a witness who testified previously, was recalled to the stand to discuss newly obtained evidence related to a message board earlier on Monday.
After a lunch break, Deer Valley Resort ski instructor Eric Christiansen began his testimony.
Christiansen testified that he saw the lead up and immediate aftermath of the collision, including Sanderson’s condition following the collision. Christiansen said that he did not observe that Sanderson was unconscious,.
He said that he heard Sanderson apologize to Paltrow twice and say to Christiansen that Paltrow “just appeared in front of me” when the Christiansen asked Sanderson if he was ok.
Christiansen said he did not witness the actual collision.
Later in the day, the jury heard from Whitney Smith, a member of ski patrol, who responded to the incident between Paltrow and Sanderson, and Steve Graff, a former ski patrol supervisor who is now the vice president of mountain operations at the resort.
Smith testified that Sanderson had vocalized rib pain, but he passed her preliminary cognitive tests. She testified that she observed him to be “alert” and did not observe any serious head injury, nor did she have a reason to believe he was unconscious at any point.
She advised him seek further medical treatment at a clinic, and waited with Sanderson for an extended period of time until he was picked up by friends.
TV producer Brad Falchuck, Paltrow’s husband, and her children Apple Martin and Moses Martin were set to testify on Monday, but delays in proceedings changed plans.
The trial so far
Paltrow, who has been present in the Utah courtroom since the trial began last Tuesday, took the stand on Friday to testify.
Sanderson, 76, has accused Paltrow of crashing into him and causing him lasting injuries and brain damage while they were both skiing on a beginner’s run on a Utah mountain. Sanderson also claims Paltrow and her ski instructor skied away after the incident without getting him medical care.
Paltrow filed a countersuit against Sanderson in 2019 claiming that he skied into her.
The two have been in a legal battle for seven years.
In roughly two hours of testimony on Friday, Paltrow repeated her assertion that Sanderson skied directly into her back and caused the collision while being questioned by Sanderson’s attorney, Kristin A. VanOrman.
Paltrow said the collision happened on the first day of a trip to Deer Valley Resort that she was on with her two kids, then-boyfriend Falchuck and his two children.
She testified that two skis came in between her skis, forcing her legs apart and that she heard a “grunting noise” when she felt a body pressing against her back before they both came crashing down together.
Paltrow said she did not ask about the condition of Sanderson after they collided but claimed she stayed on the mountain “long enough for him to say that he was OK” and to stand up.
Sanderson had initially sued Paltrow for $3.1 million dollars, but later amended his complaint and is now seeking more than $300,000 in damages, according to court documents.
Paltrow is seeking $1 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees.
Prior to Paltrow’s testimony, a series of witnesses have testified including Sanderon’s daughters Polly Sanderson Grasham and Shae Sanderson Herath, and Sanderson’s friends, Mark Herath and Craig Ramon.
The jury has also heard from a number of expert witnesses.
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CNN’s Lisa Respers France, Matt Meyer and Elise Hammond contributed to this report.