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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ski Collision Trial Sounds as Bland as a Cup of Bone Broth

Gwyneth Paltrow attends Veuve Clicquot Celebrates 250th Anniversary with Solaire Exhibition on October 25, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Gwyneth Paltrow’s trial for a 2016 ski collision is currently underway in Park City, Utah. Given our cultural interest—and even obsession—in public court cases, Paltrow’s trial has quickly captured media attention. Interest will likely be heightened by the fact that Paltrow has already been steeped in controversy recently after sharing her “wellness routine.” While most know Paltrow for her roles in movies like Shakespeare in Love and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she also famously runs a wellness brand called Goop.

There was renewed scrutiny of Paltrow’s wellness advice after portions of an interview went viral on TikTok in which the actor discussed her “wellness routine,” which included an extreme diet made up predominantly of coffee, bone broth, and vegetables. Many took issue—not with her partaking in such a regimen, but with her seemingly promoting a diet that could be dangerous for others. This also isn’t the first time she’s come under fire for her wellness brand. In fact, Goop was hit with a lawsuit for false advertising which resulted in Paltrow agreeing to pay a fine of $145,000 in 2018.

Paltrow is currently at the center of another lawsuit after Terry Sanderson sued her in 2019 for allegedly causing a ski accident that resulted in his injury. While internet users have been preoccupied with Paltrow allegedly wearing Jeffrey Dahmer glasses in court, the accusations of her negligence in the skiing incident are quite serious. Here is what you need to know about Paltrow’s ski collision trial.

Why is Gwyneth Paltrow on trial?

Gwyneth Paltrow participates in panel at the 2022 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on July 19, 2022 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Brian Stukes/Getty Images)
(Brian Stukes, Getty Images)

Paltrow is on trial for an alleged incident that occurred in Utah on February 26, 2016. Details of the incident were made public on January 29, 2019, when Sanderson filed a lawsuit against Paltrow in Utah state court. In his filing, Sanderson recalled skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City with friends when he was allegedly struck by Paltrow. Before the collision, he reported hearing “hysterical screaming” from behind him as Paltrow skied “out of control.” According to Sanderson, Paltrow slammed into him from behind at a high speed. The collision allegedly resulted in Sanderson suffering four broken ribs, a concussion, and a traumatic brain injury.

However, Paltrow isn’t just being sued for causing the accident, but also for her alleged actions afterward. The lawsuit claims Paltrow got up and continued skiing without speaking to Sanderson, leaving him lying injured in the snow. When one of Sanderson’s friends tried to approach Paltrow, she allegedly fled and didn’t exchange a single word with Sanderson or his party.

Such actions would violate several rules enforced under the National Ski Area Association’s Skier Responsibility Code. This code instructs skiers to always remain in control, give people ahead of them the right-of-way, and exchange their contact information with another skier and ski area employee if a collision occurs. Leaving the scene of a collision is one of two rules enforced under the Skier Responsibility Code that can lead to criminal charges if broken. Sanderson’s attorney, Robert Sykes, emphasized that the rules apply to everyone, including celebrities.

Paltrow’s response to Sanderson’s lawsuit

Paltrow and her legal team have not denied that she was involved in an accident with Sanderson on the date in question. However, they have presented an entirely different account of what happened that day. In a counterclaim filed in February 2019, Paltrow and her team claim that Sanderson actually hit her. Per the counterclaim, Paltrow was skiing downhill ahead of Sanderson when he crashed into her from behind. Additionally, they allege that the pair did exchange words, with Paltrow being quite angry and Sanderson apologizing and assuring Paltrow he was alright before the two parted ways.

While Sanderson’s initial lawsuit sought $3.1 million in damages from Paltrow, Paltrow’s countersuit is only seeking a single dollar in addition to payment of her legal fees. The amount is meant to be “symbolic” and demonstrates Paltrow’s interest in merely clearing her name. Paltrow and her team allege that Sanderson’s lawsuit is just a scheme to attain some of Paltrow’s wealth.

The Paltrow and Sanderson trial so far

Actor Gwyneth Paltrow looks on before leaving the courtroom, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Park City, Utah, where she is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier during a 2016 family ski vacation, leaving him with brain damage and four broken ribs. Terry Sanderson claims that the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer was cruising down the slopes so recklessly that they violently collided, leaving him on the ground as she and her entourage continued their descent down Deer Valley Resort, a skiers-only mountain known for its groomed runs, après-ski champagne yurts and posh clientele.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
(Rick Bowmer-Pool, Getty Images)

The trial has just begun, so there haven’t been many developments as of yet. However, ahead of the trial, the judge dismissed several of Sanderson’s claims, the most notable of which was Sanderson’s claim that it was “a hit-and-run ski crash”—which, as explained above, would’ve provided the most substantial grounds for criminal charges. As a result, Sanderson lowered the damages he is seeking to $300,000, plus coverage of his legal expenses. Sanderson’s accusations that the resort and ski instructors were involved in a cover-up of the incident were also dismissed.

Dr. Wendell Gibby was one of the first to testify on Terry Sanderson’s behalf in court. Gibby claimed that brain scans and the nature of Sanderson’s rib fractures supported the plaintiff’s account of being struck by Paltrow. He also testified that Sanderson showed symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, including an alleged deterioration in his health. Gibby testified that Sanderson suffered from memory loss, depression, breakdowns in his relationships, and an inability to participate in hobbies and activities he had once enjoyed. He also rejected a counter-argument that old age or a previous stroke had caused the deterioration instead of the crash. An acquaintance of Sanderson and one of the few firsthand witnesses also testified, claiming to have seen Paltrow crash into Sanderson.

The trial is slated to call in many more witnesses, including Paltrow’s husband and two children who were with her that day, Sanderson’s family members, and ski instructors. A total of 20 witnesses will testify over the course of the trial. Paltrow is also expected to take the stand herself to testify in the trial. Jurors may have a difficult time reaching a decision, due to the lack of firsthand witnesses in the trial. For example, although Paltrow’s kids and husband will testify, none of them actually saw the incident take place, only the aftermath.

Testimony from doctors and experts may be particularly important in establishing the cause of Sanderson’s injuries, as well as that from ski instructors who may shed light on the codes, rules, and expectations of skiing.

(featured image: Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.