Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand on Friday to testify in a trial relating to a skiing accident at a Utah ski resort in 2016.
A man claims Paltrow’s recklessness on the slope caused him broken ribs, brain damage and lasting physical injuries. Paltrow said the accident came as a shock to her and at first she thought she was being raped. She says two skis came between her skis, forcing her legs apart, and a body leaned against her, accompanied by a strange growl.
Although she initially felt her body was violated, she later clarified on the stand that the accident was not a sexual violation.
Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist suing Paltrow, and Paltrow herself are expected to answer questions about the crash as their lawyers try to convince the eight-member jury which skier was positioned downhill and had the right passing. Paltrow has previously said in depositions that Sanderson was responsible for the crash. The lawsuit touched on themes ranging from skier etiquette to the power and burden of fame.
Next week, Paltrow’s team is expected to call medical experts, ski instructors and her two children, Moses and Apple, to the stand. The lawsuit shone a spotlight on Park City, Utah, the upscale ski town known for rolling out a red carpet for celebrities each January during the Sundance Film Festival, and skier-only Deer Valley Resort, where Paltrow and Sanderson collided. The proceedings delved into Sanderson’s medical history and personality changes, with lawyers questioning whether his deteriorated health and estranged relationships stemmed from the collision or the natural aging process.
After a judge dismissed Sanderson’s earlier US$3.1 million lawsuit, Sanderson went on to seek damages of “over $300,000”. Paltrow countersued for a token dollar and attorney’s fees. The amount of money at stake for both parties pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multi-year trial, private security detail and expert witness trial. Paltrow’s lawyers spent much of Thursday raising questions about Sanderson’s mentions of their client’s wealth and fame, as well as what they called his “obsession” with the lawsuit.