Gwyneth Paltrow has begun her testimony in her ski crash trial.
The actress, 50, looked poised as she took to the stand to be grilled by lawyers for retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, who says she smashed into him, leaving him brain damaged.
She doubled down on her version of events – telling court that Sanderson hit her and it wasn’t a hit and run incident.
Paltrow said she left because ‘he hit me’ and was told to leave by her ski instructor.
She also claimed instructor Eric Christiansen had handed over her contact details to the stricken Sanderson and she did not abandon him on the slopes.
Swinging her chair back and forth as she was questioned, Paltrow added: ‘I was not engaging in any risky behavior [that day].’
Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand in court in Utah Friday for the fourth day of her ski crash trial
Sanderson alleges he was left with four broken ribs and a permanent brain injury. Paltrow denies crashing into the retiree and countersued, saying he was the one who skied into her – leaving her angry and sore
During her testimony, Paltrow said she heard Sanderson making a ‘groaning noise’ as they collided and initially thought she was being assaulted by someone ‘perverted’.
She said: ‘He was making some strange noises that sounded male and he was large so I assumed he was a male.
‘I was confused at first because it’s a very strange thing to happen on a ski slope. I got very upset a few seconds later.
‘There was a body pressing against me and he was making a groaning noise. I didn’t know, is this a practical joke or is someone doing something perverted?’
Paltrow also attempted to deny she had been watching son Moses ski at the time of the crash but was tripped up by testimony from her son’s instructor Kari Oaks.
She said: ‘I can still watch my children ski and be skied directly into my back by someone and that’s what happened.
‘My daughter was down the hill and my son was to my left, I was skiing and my eyes were not just on Moses.’
In a bizarre moment during questioning, Sanderson’s lawyer Kristin van Orman asked Paltrow, ‘How tall are you?’
Gwyneth said, ‘Just under 5ft 10 but I’m shrinking.’
To which Van Orman said: ‘I’m barely 5ft 5 wearing 4 inch heels.’
Paltrow then complemented her, saying: ‘They’re very nice.’
She said she yelled at Sanderson: ‘You skied directly into my f****** back!’
Paltrow said Sanderson replied, in a mumble: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’
She said that her son Moses’s ski instructor, Eric Christiansen, came over and helped Sanderson up.
Paltrow said she had no recollection of Craig Ramon, a friend and ski companion of Sanderson’s, who testified earlier during the week that Paltrow hit Sanderson.
She said she did not see him, and left the scene when the ski instructor arrived.
‘When Eric, as an accredited Deer Valley ski instructor, said he would handle the paperwork, I believed him,’ she said.
Asked about Ramon, she said: ‘I don’t believe he saw it. I don’t believe he saw what he thinks he saw.
‘He said he was 40ft away and color blind. I don’t know how he can be positive about what he saw, given the distance.
‘Mr Sanderson categorically hit me on the ski slope.’
Sanderson’s attorney said: ‘That’s what you believe.’
Paltrow replied: ‘Because it’s the truth.’
Gwyneth Paltrow was back in court in Utah Friday for the fourth day of her ski crash trial
Despite blizzard conditions in Park City, the A-lister arrived wearing a $248 pair of mirrored Rayban aviator sunglasses which she paired with a long navy coat, a navy blue dress and a black pair of $1,200 Celine boots
Friday’s proceedings began with the cross examination of Dr. Richard Boehme, who insisted the only explanation for Sanderson’s rib fractures was being hit from the left and landed on by Paltrow.
Dr. Boehme, who drew his conclusions from a review of documents and a clinical session when Sanderson, said he had considered an alternative – that Sanderson hit Paltrow – but thought his injuries could not have been caused that way.
He also dismissed suggestions that Sanderson was ‘malingering’ or exaggerating the extent of his injuries.
Sanderson’s legal team then called Mark Herath, a FedEx pilot and the brother-in-law of his daughter Shae.
Herath said the pair had been close prior to the accident but became distant afterwards due to changes in Sanderson’s personality.
He told court he had been shocked after being told, the day after the accident, that Paltrow had skied away after allegedly hitting Sanderson, saying: ‘He said he heard a scream and got hit from behind, hit the snow and went unconscious and had to be taken off the mountain.
‘He said Gwyneth Paltrow hit him and she left the scene of the accident – that surprised me. Because my roommate in college, his mom got hit, and the kid tried to escape and they chased him down the mountain. That was in Colorado.
‘It’s a hit and run. It’s a serious offense. It’s something you just don’t do.’
He said Sanderson had become increasingly confused after the crash and gave up skiing in the aftermath.
Herath said: ‘It was like day and night since before and after the accident. He hasn’t skied since the accident.
‘I talked to him the first year after the accident about skiing but it was clear that was a dead end. He wasn’t mentally ready to ski again.’
He added: ‘It’s not enjoyable to be around Terry like it used to be because he’s confused a lot, the paranoia, he’s anxious around people. You can only take Terry in small doses now.’
Sanderson’s legal team then called Mark Herath, a FedEx pilot and the brother-in-law of his daughter Shae. Herath said the pair had been close prior to the accident but became distant afterwards due to changes in Sanderson’s personality
Sanderson’s daughter Shae Herath told the jury that her father no longer ‘trusts his brain’ in the wake of the crash and the injuries he received
Paltrow is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a Sanderson during a 2016 family ski vacation
Later, Sanderson’s daughter Shae Herath told the jury that her father no longer ‘trusts his brain’ in the wake of the crash and the injuries he received.
Shae, who appeared visibly nervous on the stand and spoke in a sometimes shaky voice, said: ‘My dad has quite a few personality issues, the injury to his brain has caused significant damage – enough to cause personality changes.
‘My dad is very insecure, he doesn’t show it but he doesn’t trust his brain anymore. He used to be able to multitask and do all sorts of tasks and now he can’t follow through.
‘As his daughter, I feel that his life is exhausting.’
Owens had repeatedly asked Shae about her parents’ divorce, whether Sanderson had assaulted a man who allegedly had an affair with her mother and referred to an incident involving the retiree’s second wife where the people were called.
An incredulous Shae replied: ‘Are you getting your facts straight? ‘ During his questioning, Owens also noted Sanderson once accidentally overdosed on his medication and had to be revived with Narcan.
According to Owens, Sanderson referred to Paltrow as ‘Godzilla’ and told his daughter that he had ‘Godzilla coming after him’ in his account of the ski crash.
Owens then attempted to paint Sanderson as an attention seeker, telling court that youngest daughter Jenny had described him in that way and claimed the optometrist thought it was ‘cool’ to see his name in the press and sent his daughters links to coverage in the press.
Yesterday, the trial heard from another of Sanderson’s daughters, Polly Grasham, 49, who said her father had been left dramatically changed by the crash
Yesterday, the trial heard from another of Sanderson’s daughters, Polly Grasham, 49, who said her father had been left dramatically changed by the crash.
Grasham said: ‘It’s really messy right now, it’s really hard. I think he’s in a really negative place and that’s hard for me as a daughter.
‘It’s like the main sentence is gone and all we have are the little details – part of the frustration is he gets caught up in little details and the primary focus is gone.
‘I have to bring it full circle. I think he gets frustrated and angry. Now it’s very A to B, don’t throw in a C or a D. I understand there is a lot of grief and loss for the way his life functioned before, it doesn’t function like that now.’
Prior to the crash, Grasham said, her father had a ‘Mensa mind’, was good at troubleshooting and loved to spend time with granddaughters Hope, 25, and Anne, 22.
‘[He was] just really fun-loving, gregarious, really quick with a joke and a smile.
‘My dad was smart. I used to describe him as a Mensa mind. Quick to figure things out.’
She said she was told of the crash on the day it happened and knew he was getting medical treatment but only realized the extent of his injuries when he came to Idaho at the end of May 2016 for Hope’s graduation.
Grasham said: ‘There was a time when he was sitting in a chair by my window and I almost expected drool to be coming out of his mouth.
‘He hadn’t engaged with anybody and had taken himself off to a remote corner – that was when I first felt something was terribly wrong.’
She also said Sanderson had become increasingly angry and ‘petty’ in the wake of the crash – in contrast to his previous behavior.
Grasham said the symptoms were worst in the first 18 months after the crash and have improved a little since but said he still struggles with multitasking and disorientation.