Seven years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow was skiing with her family in Park City Utah. That day would be the reason why Paltrow was in court this week facing a personal injury lawsuit and pursuing a countersuit that asks for $1.
What are the details of the case, and why is Paltrow asking for $1 in damages?
A Collision on The Sky Slopes
On February 26, 2016, actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow was enjoying a day of skiing with her husband and two children. The family hired Eric Christiansen, a ski instructor with 44 years of experience, to provide lessons for Paltrow’s son.
At the same time, retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, now 76, was also on the slopes at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
At some point on the beginner’s course, Paltrow and Sanderson collided.
Paltrow and Sanderson have very different descriptions of what happened, and their perspectives are at the core of a personal injury case that is scheduled to last for eight days in front of a jury.
He Said — She Said
Sanderson alleges that Paltrow ran into him in a type of “hit and run” on the slope. He says she crashed into him and then got up and left without aiding or assisting him. Sanderson said the crash left him with four broken ribs and a brain injury.
Paltrow has a different version of events.
She said Sanderson ran into her and told her he was fine before leaving the scene.
Christiansen, the ski instructor with Paltrow’s family, didn’t see the accident but he was one of the first people to respond to the incident. He filed a report with Deer Valley Resort saying Sanderson hit Paltrow from behind.
But, the impact of the crash didn’t end there.
He Sued — She Sued
Three years after the crash on the ski slopes, Sanderson filed a personal injury lawsuit against Paltrow.
The lawsuit claims that Sanderson experienced damages due to the injuries he sustained from the collision with Paltrow. Sanderson said he took three years to file the lawsuit because he had problems with attorneys and couldn’t function properly because of his injuries. Sanderson originally sought $3.1 million in damage but his initial lawsuit was dropped, according to USA TODAY.
He is now suing Paltrow for $300,000.
Sanderson is also suing Deer Valley Resort. Sanderson says the resort filed a false report indicating that he caused the crash.
Paltrow responded to the lawsuit with one of her own.
She filed a counterclaim against Sanderson. Her lawsuit says she is seeking “symbolic damages in the amount of $1, plus her costs and attorney’s fees to defend this meritless claim.”
The personal injury lawsuit filed in 2019 in Utah was finally brought to trial on March 21, 2023.
How to Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case
The personal injury case is filed in Utah and will follow Utah laws. To prove fault in a personal injury case in Utah, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was liable.
Sanderson must prove:
- Paltrow had a duty to provide a safe space for Sanderson
- Paltrow was negligent and breached that duty
- The breach caused an accident
- The accident led to harm and damages for Sanderson
Paltrow’s legal team is fighting these allegations while pointing blame back on Sanderson.
What Has Happened in the Trial So Far?
So far in the trial, each side has brought individuals to testify to support their case.
Radiologist Dr. Wendell Gibby testified that Sanderson’s head trauma appeared to be an injury caused by someone crashing into him. Neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong testified that she couldn’t say with certainty that the crash directly led to Sanderson’s health issues.
Paltrow told her version of the story on the stand, saying Sanderson “categorically hit me on that ski slope.”
Ski instructor Christiansen testified that he found the two intertwined with Paltrow on top. Paltrow told him she was hit and never saw it coming. He also testified that Paltrow had a strong skiing ability, according to Insider.
Terry Sanderson took the stand to say he heard a “bloodcurdling” scream before he was hit from behind which sent him “flying.”
Now, it will be up to the jury to decide which side caused the accident and who is entitled to damages — even if the damages are just $1.
Protect Your Rights with a Trusted Attorney
If someone’s negligence led to an injury to you or a loved one, you are entitled to damages. Talk to a personal injury attorney about whether or not you have a case worth fighting for. Contact TJ Grimaldi for your free consultation to discuss the details of your case and possible next steps. Contact us to schedule today or call us at 813-226-1023.