Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Crash Case: Daily Trial Updates

Jury: Gwyneth Paltrow not at fault in ski crash

A Utah jury has decided that Gwyneth Paltrow was NOT at fault for a 2016 ski slope collision with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson at Deer Mountain Resort in Park City. The jury found Sanderson 100% at fault. Paltrow has been awarded $1 in damages.

Posted at 5:00 PM, March 30, 2023 and last updated 2:25 PM, April 17, 2023


PARK CITY, Utah (Court TV) — In a complete and total victory for Gwyneth Paltrow, a Utah jury has decided that the Goop founder was not at fault for a ski slope collision with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson. The jury found Sanderson 100% at fault. Paltrow was awarded $1 in damages.

It was a he said, she said on the ski slopes.

Sanderson sued Paltrow, seeking more than $3.2 million in damages in connection with the collision at Deer Valley in Park City.

Gwyneth Paltrow and her attorney Steve Owens smile after the reading of the verdict in her lawsuit trial, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow won her court battle over a 2016 ski collision at a posh Utah ski resort after a jury decided Thursday that the movie star wasn’t at fault for the crash. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

WATCH: Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Crash Case: Watch the Verdict

Terry Sanderson, 76, alleged he sustained a brain injury and four broken ribs on February 26, 2016, when Paltrow knocked him over while skiing down Bandana run, a beginner-level hill at Deer Valley Resort on Flagstaff Mountain. According to Sanderson’s lawsuit, the actress was skiing in an “out-of-control” manner when she crashed into Sanderson, who was downhill from her.

Sanderson’s suit alleged Paltrow skied away without summoning help. The lawsuit also alleged that Deer Valley ski instructor Eric Christiansen blamed him for the accident and did not call for help. In addition, the suit alleged that the instructor filed a false report in order to protect Paltrow.

Sanderson’s complaint states that he suffered “a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries” after Paltrow struck him from behind, “knocking him down hard, knocking him out.” Additionally, Sanderson maintains he suffered “pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement.”

In response, Paltrow filed a counterclaim seeking $1 in compensatory damages plus her attorneys’ fees and costs.

WATCH: Terry Sanderson Speaks at Press Conference

According to Paltrow’s countersuit, Sanderson admitted he didn’t remember what happened, but Paltrow says she remembers the incident clearly. According to her recollection, Sanderson was uphill from her and plowed into her from behind, causing her to sustain a “full body blow.” She said that when she expressed her anger to Sanderson, he apologized. Paltrow claims that although her injuries were minor, they caused her to end her day on the slopes when it was still morning.

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, left, as she walks out of the courtroom following the reading of the verdict in their lawsuit trial, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow won her court battle over a 2016 ski collision at a posh Utah ski resort after a jury decided Thursday that the movie star wasn’t at fault for the crash. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

Paltrow further recalled that the collision occurred in front of Christiansen — whereas Sanderson claims Christiansen didn’t witness the collision — and that Christiansen determined that Sanderson was the one who caused the accident.

Sanderson initially sued Paltrow for damages exceeding $3.1 million, alleging that the incident constituted a hit-and-run, but a judge dismissed those claims. Sanderson’s amended complaint seeks in excess of $300,000 from the lawsuit, maintaining Paltrow negligently caused his injuries.

The rules of the slope maintain that whoever is further down the mountain has the right of way. In this case, both Paltrow and Sanderson claim to have been further down.

Court TV is covering the case, gavel-to-gavel.


DAY 8 – 3/30/23

  • The jury of 4 men 4 women deliberated for 2.5 hours and unanimously found in favor of Gwyneth Paltrow, concluding she was not responsible for the accident Terry Sanderson said she caused and awarded her $1 as she requested. Paltrow is seeking attorney fees, but a judge will decide that in a separate hearing at a later date.
  • Sanderson appeared to have his regrets about the lawsuit telling Court TV, his whole life had been exposed and he did not like the way he was characterized.
  • Terry Sanderson’s attorney Robert Sykes told jurors that Gwyneth Paltrow was not a liar but said that just because she believes she’s not at fault, doesn’t make it so.
  • Defense attorney Steve Owens offered a little more insight into the damage that Paltrow suffered as a result of the accident. He told the jury that February 26, 2016 was a chance for two families to bond. He said Paltrow hadn’t skied for a long time because it made her miss her father, but Brad Falchuk who was her boyfriend at the time, liked to ski and he had children about the same ages as Paltrow’s son and daughter.
  • READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow won her ski case. Here’s how it played out

DAY 7 – 3/29/23

  • Facebook photos of Terry Sanderson globetrotting, skiing, and backyard partying were flashed on the big screen by Paltrow’s team, meant to drive home their point that Sanderson’s life had not been negatively impacted by his collision with Gwyneth Paltrow in February 2016.
  • “Did you post this? Wheels up bound for Europe,” asked Steve Owens as he flashed photo after photo of Sanderson posing in locales from Frankfurt to Peru to the Canary Islands, all trips Sanderson admittedly made in the years after his accident.
  • Sanderson is pictured on ski slopes, along hiking trails, and boating in the Amazon, photos of him smiling with friends suggest he continues to enjoy outings and activities despite painting a picture of himself as s recluse because the trauma of the ski accident has compromised his independence and robbed him of his joie de vivre.
  • The retired optometrist says he continues to suffer symptoms from the brain injury, including mood swings, memory loss, and a decline in cognitive and executive functions.
  • Wednesday’s defense line-up of medical experts reviewed Sanderson’s medical records and took turns saying that his symptoms were better attributed to an aging brain than an injured one.
  • Experts in Neuroradiology, neurology and neuropsychology testified that any concussion he suffered was mild and should have been resolved in months. Defense experts noted that Sanderson scored in the normal to above average range in neuropsychological testing after the accident and that a decline in cognitive and executive functions could be explained by aging and the progression of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus a brain disease detected years before the ski accident.
  • Neuro psychologist Angela Eastvold also opined that his symptoms could be rooted in his mental health, suggesting that his chronic anxiety and insomnia could be driving his reported complaints.
  • Neurologist Dr. Robert Hoesch agreed that the cure for Mr. Sanderson could be the end of the lawsuit which is exacerbating his anxiety.
  • On cross plaintiff’s attorneys suggested defense experts did not examine or treat Sanderson and cherry picked from his medical records to prove their theories and did not consider the changes that those close to Sanderson observed pre- and post-accident.
  • READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow’s defense leans on experts in ski trial

DAY 6 – 3/28/23

DAY 5 – 3/27/23

  • Plaintiff Terry Sanderson testified that he heard a ‘blood curdling scream,’ that sounded like somebody was out of control before he was hit square in the back and sent flying into the ground before everything went black.
  • The retired optometrist testified that he suffered four broken ribs and a concussion when Paltrow crashed into him in February of 2016. Since the accident he said he no longer enjoys skiing, and has given it up, fearful that another crash could permanently disable him and force him to spend life in a nursing home.
  • Sanderson testified that he has become a recluse since colliding with Gwyneth Paltrow, while skiing. He says the accident robbed him of activities he once enjoyed and a relationship with a woman he once loved.
  • He described other changes in his life, including getting lost on routes that he has traveled frequently, not being able to multitask, and struggling with communication and emotions.
  • “My interaction with my family has been more difficult,” he said. “Somethings wrong in my essence and what I bring to the table with them. It’s been more difficult, and they’ve told me they notice some changes.”
  • Sanderson became emotional when he talked about his breakup with Karlene Davidson the woman he was had been dating before the accident.
  • “After eight months I had to tell her to leave,” he said his voice quivering. “She didn’t buy into me not being the same person. I’m not sure I’m going to get back to normal. I didn’t want her to stick it out even though I know she would.”
  • On cross Paltrow’s attorney Steve Owens suggested Sanderson enjoyed the attention of having been in an accident with a celebrity pointing to an email he sent his daughter on the day of the accident with the subject line, “I’m famous.”
  • Owens also noted that Sanderson was much larger at the time of the accident – pointing to Sanderson’s previous testimony in a deposition where he described himself as 170 to 180 pounds and 5’8, three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than what he says he currently weighs
  • Due to time constraints, Owens cut short his cross examination of Sanderson and will continue questioning later in the week. Paltrow started calling her own witnesses today, including Deer Valley Ski Instructor Eric Christiansen who was teaching her son Moses to ski on the day of the accident.
  • Christiansen testified that he was first on the scene, not Craig Roman, who he says arrived on the scene 45 seconds after he did. He said Sanderson never lost consciousness and after helping him to his feet he said he was ‘Okay,’ and rejected any help from ski patrol.
  • Christiansen said he did not witness the actual collision but was aware of the surroundings before and immediately after the accident. He said that Sanderson had to have skied in Paltrow because he observed him going at a high rate of speed, and he heard him apologize to Paltrow after the collision and said, “she just appeared in front of me.”
  • On cross plaintiff’s attorney Lawrence Buhler suggested that Christiansen was angry about the collision and wanted to protect Paltrow. He suggested the reason why Sanderson apologized was to placate Christiansen.
  • READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow accuser calls Utah ski crash ‘serious smack’
  • WATCH: Examining the Body Language of Paltrow and Sanderson
  • WATCH: Terry Sanderson’s Friend Questioned On GoPro Link

DAY 4 – 3/24/23

  • Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand on Friday and declared she did not cause the accident that Terry Sanderson says left him with a brain injury and four broken ribs.
  • She went on to say she was the one struck from behind and described feeling a ‘large’ man pressing against her back, making disturbing grunting noises.
  • “I was confused at first, it was a very strange thing to happen,” she said telling the jury that for a fleeting moment she thought she was being sexually assaulted.
  • “It was a quick thought that went through my head when I was trying to reconcile what was happening. I was skiing, and two skis came between my skies, forcing my legs apart then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise,” she said. “Is this a practical joke, is someone trying to do something perverted. This is very very strange. My mind was going very quickly as I was trying to ascertain what was happening.”
  • Paltrow said the two went crashing to the ground with their skis and knees intertwined leaving them ‘spooning’, a position from which she quickly extricated herself.
  • Paltrow testified she was very upset by the encounter, and admitted she yelled, “You skied into my f’ing back.” She was loud enough that her son Moses, who was nine at the time, heard her cursing.
  • Plaintiff’s attorney Kristin VanOrman asked Paltrow to participate in a re-enactment of the collision, which prompted an objection by Paltrow’s attorney, and the proposed demonstration was scrapped. Instead, Paltrow described how the collision occurred from the witness stand, with VanOrman posing as both Paltrow and Sanderson.  Jurors were no less engaged, as they all stood up to peer at the lawyer who was trying to mimic the positions of the skiers from Paltrow’s point of view.
  • While Paltrow insisted that Sanderson had skied into her, VanOrman suggested she was distracted at the time of the collision because her son who was uphill was calling her and asking her to watch him ski.
  • Paltrow said she did not recall her son calling her and insisted that even if she was watching him – she was certain that Sanderson skied into her back.
  • VanOrman tried to raise doubt about Paltrow’s description of the offending skier, who she described as ‘large.’ The attorney stood next to Sanderson who was in the courtroom for Paltrow’s testimony. It appeared Sanderson was 5’5, about five inches shorter than Paltrow who described herself as just under 5’10.
  • Paltrow agreed that the right thing to do was to stay and exchange contact information after the collision. She said she believed she was the victim of the accident and relied on Deer Valley ski instructor Eric Christianson to act as her proxy and exchange information with Sanderson while she skied down the hill to join her family.
  • WATCH: Gwyneth Paltrow Denies Collision Was a Hit-and-Run
  • Plaintiff’s attorney suggests Paltrow is lying – her attorney Owens demands an apology
  • Sanderson’s daughter testifies that post-accident her father berated her 6-year-old daughter in an incident that left her in tears and permanently affected their relationship
  • WATCH: Paltrow Attorney Reveals Receiving GoPro Link
  • WATCH: Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Crash Case: Neurologist Testifies
  • WATCH: Analyzing Gwyneth Paltrow’s Body Language on the Stand
  • READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow insists Utah ski collision wasn’t her fault

DAY 3 – 3/23/23

  • Plaintiff’s daughter Polly Grasham testified that her father’s personality changed dramatically after the ski accident, noting that he went from being very social and active, to becoming a recluse, who was easily frustrated, agitated and unable to focus.
  • Grasham visited her father in May three months after the February 2016 accident and ‘expected him to drool,’ because he appeared so out of it. She witnessed a decline in her father’s cognitive abilities, he got lost, had memory issues, and stopped many of the activities he once enjoyed. His relationship with Karlene Davidson, which had been thriving before the accident, failed. After Karlene, he began dating another woman who caused her great concern when she called and told her that she would be moving out because she no longer felt ‘safe’ around her father.
  • Grasham recounted a number of incidents in which she observed her father behave in a way that he never did before the accident including angrily berating her younger sister Jenny. The defense suggested that Sanderson had a pattern of failed relationships long before the ski accident noting two failed marriages and his estrangement from Jenny, who allegedly testified in a deposition that her father was verbally abusive and frequently violated boundaries that she set.
  • The cross examination of Grasham got testy at times, when Paltrow’s attorney confronted Grasham with derogatory statements her sister made in a deposition about their father. His aggressive questioning eventually prompted him to apologize, “I was being an ass earlier,” he said. “It was wrong for me to triangulate you, your dad, your sister, and your mom. I ask for your forgiveness.”
  • Two experts testified via video deposition. Dr. Alina Fong testified that she treated Sanderson for 32 weeks at her clinic in 2017. She testified that Sanderson was a model patient who worked hard to get better, but still struggled with post concussive symptoms.
  • Richard Boehme, a biomedical engineer testified that based on his analysis, it was more likely that Paltrow crashed into Sanderson because of the injuries he sustained. If the accident happened the way Paltrow said it did, that Sanderson struck her, he would have had to rotate on his way down to incur the rib fractures on his right side and have Paltrow land on top of him. Boehme also opined that if Sanderson had hit Paltrow from behind, he would have landed on his back not face first. The law of physics would not have allowed Sanderson to generate enough force to rotate and fracture his ribs had he been the one to strike Paltrow from behind, according to Boehme.
    • “There’s only one scenario that would create enough force to crack those ribs and that would be Paltrow striking him and landing on top of him,” he said.
  • WATCH: Plaintiff in Paltrow Case Has Been Absent For Most of Trial 
  • WATCH: Paltrow Case: Plaintiff’s Ex-Girlfriend Speaks to Court TV 
  • WATCH: Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Crash Case: Body Language Analysis
  • READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow’s lawyer asks about missing GoPro video

DAY 2 – 3/22/23

DAY 1 – 3/21/23

Court TV’s Senior Director of Courtroom Coverage, Grace Wong, contributed to this report.

The AP initially reported Sanderson was suing Paltrow for $300,000, which was later updated in the opening statements to more than 3.2 million dollars. The above story has been updated to reflect the total damages.