Why Is Gwyneth Paltrow on Trial? A Military Veteran Claims She Crashed into Him While Skiing—He Was Left ‘Unconscious’

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She’s been spotted leaving a courthouse in Park City, Utah, and if you don’t know why Gwyneth Paltrow is on trial, here’s everything that’s happened so far.

The Iron Man star was in the news cycle a fair bit in March 2023, first for her controversial and “disordered” diet and wellness claims and now for a civil lawsuit stemming from an incident in 2019. On an episode of The Art of Being Well podcast which dropped on March 13, 2023, Paltrow was asked to describe her daily routine from a diet and exercise perspective and an excerpt was shared to TikTok.

“I usually eat something about 12, and in the morning I’ll have some things that won’t spike my blood sugar, so I have coffee, but I really like soup for lunch,” she said. “I have bone broth for lunch.” She added that she likes to do an “hour of movement” every day as well as 30 minutes in her infrared sauna. “Then for dinner, I try to eat, you know, according to paleo, so lots of vegetables. It’s really important for me to support my detox,” she concluded. Naturally, the backlash against the clip was palpable. We’re now talking about her for an entirely different reason.

Why is Gwyneth Paltrow on trial?

Why is Gwyneth Paltrow on trial? Paltrow is on trial after a retired optometrist and military veteran accused her of crashing into him while skiing at the upscale Deer Valley Resort in Park City on February 26, 2016. Terry Sanderson claims they collided and skied away despite the crash leaving him “face down in the snow, unconscious,” one of his attorneys, Lawrence Buhler, described per the Washington Post. He initially sought $3 million in damages in the lawsuit filed in 2019 before dropping the amount to $300,000. In a counterclaim, Paltrow is suing Sanderson for $1 plus legal fees.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow. Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

In court on March 21, 2023, Buhler said the Goop founder had turned to watch her children ski and “as she turns her head back down, she screams, then skis into the back of Terry Sanderson.” The accident had a lasting impact on Sanderson, according to his attorneys, who said Paltrow’s “neglect, her choices and her disregard for other people on the mountain all combined together” to cause the life-changing brain injury. “Before this crash, Terry was an outgoing, charming, gregarious person,” Buhler said. “But after the crash, he’s no longer charming.”

Court documents say his injuries include “permanent traumatic brain injury, 4 broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement,” and add that Sanderson “will continue to suffer injuries and damages in the future,” per the New York Times. Citing x-rays, brain scans and neurological tests documenting Sanderson’s alleged injuries, two doctors were called to testify.

Dr. Samuel Goldstein, a neuropsychologist, called Sanderson’s post-crash trajectory an “acute rapid downturn… Were it not for that particular accident, the life he was living in the six months to a year before that … he would continue to be living,” he said. Dr. Wendell Gibby, a radiologist, also testified that Sanderson “deteriorated abruptly” after the accident, per AP.

It’s a classic case of he-said-she-said, as Paltrow claims Sanderson was the one who crashed into her. “She’s skiing, enjoying herself,” her attorney Stephen Owens said in court. “Suddenly she sees two skis appear between her skis. And a man comes up right behind her,” adding that she thought, “Am I being assaulted?” Another element of Paltrow’s defense is citing the 76-year-old’s existing health problems that could have contributed to the crash. According to court documents, Mr. Sanderson, who was 69 at the time, had told his doctor about a year earlier that he was blind in his right eye and that vision in his left eye was declining. “He’s aging, he has prior problems, and he’s now obsessed, essentially, with this lawsuit,” said Owens. “I don’t want to seem like I’m beating up on a kindly old man, but keep in mind we have to do this because they’ve said Gwyneth owes me $3 million.”

According to a report filed by AP, Paltrow accused Sanderson of trying to exploit her wealth and fame. “She did not knock him down,” Paltrow’s court filing said. “He knocked her down. He was not knocked out.” Her legal response to Sanderson also called his lawsuit an “attempt to exploit her celebrity and wealth.” The question of who’s in the wrong hinges on skiing etiquette. Both Paltrow and Sanderson claimed they were the downhill skier, meaning they had right-of-way on the beginner’s slope.

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