By Sam Metz
More witnesses are expected to testify on Wednesday in a trial about a 2016 ski crash between Gwyneth Paltrow and a retired Utah man suing her and claiming her recklessness left him with lasting injuries and brain damage.
On the opening day of the trial, Paltrow and retired optometrist Terry Sanderson appeared across the courtroom from each other, looking nonplussed to hear arguments that have become familiar over the past seven years of legal proceedings. Since Paltrow and Sanderson’s skis intertwined on what they expected to be an enjoyable day on the slopes with friends and family, the two have been tangled in a lengthy legal drama about what really happened on a beginner’s run that day at one of the most upscale ski destinations in the United States.
The mountain, Deer Valley Resort, has among the region’s most expensive lift tickets and is known for its après-ski champagne yurts and proximity to Park City — a posh resort town known for hosting the Sundance Film Festival.
Though the court is not publishing a witness list, attorneys said Wendell Gibby and Sam Goldstein — a radiologist and neuropsychologist — would likely be called to testify on Wednesday. Sanderson’s lawyers said they expected to call four witnesses total on Wednesday and left the possibility open that one could be Paltrow, depending on when others expected to testify arrive in Park City.
Gibby and Goldstein have previously appeared as expert witnesses for Sanderson, who has said he broke ribs and sustained brain damage from the crash. Attorneys have argued over whether Sanderson’s medical problems stemmed from the crash or were merely a byproduct of aging.
Both parties blame the other for the collision and claim they were crashed into from behind, relying on a little-known Utah law stipulating that whoever is downhill has the right of way when skiing and snowboarding. Paltrow's attorney have asked Judge Kent Holmberg to enact special restrictions throughout the actor-turned-wellness tycoon's trial, while she has used a blue notebook to shield her face from view when entering and exiting the courtroom.
They called Sanderson's story “utter B.S.” building off earlier claims from court filings and previous depositions where they accused him of suing to exploit the Oscar-winning star of “Shakespeare in Love's” wealth and celebrity.
Sanderson's attorneys have attempted to paint her as a negligent celebrity with little care for the injuries inflicted upon the 76-year-old military veteran. They called Sanderson's ex-girlfriend and a ski companion who was nearby during the crash to testify on Tuesday. Karlene Davidson said the crash had “changed” Sanderson and contributed to the demise of their romance. Craig Ramon testified that Paltrow hit Sanderson and said that afterward, one of her family's ski instructors came up to him and said “Your buddy just took out Gwyneth Paltrow.”
The trial underway in Park City is the latest development in the seven-year case and follows Sanderson's decision to amend an earlier lawsuit after a $3.1 million complaint that named Paltrow and Deer Valley was dismissed. Paltrow subsequently filed a counterclaim for $1 and attorney fees.