Gwyneth Paltrow headed for court showdown over ‘hysterical King Kong’ ski crash

Founder and CEO of goop, Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage during 'The Rise of Goop: Building a Tastemaking Empire'  (Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Founder and CEO of goop, Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage during 'The Rise of Goop: Building a Tastemaking Empire' (Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s day on the slopes in Park City, Utah was cut short seven years ago when she had to take some time to rest after she collided with another person coming down the hill.

As she was climbing the hill on 26 February 2016, another skiier slammed into her from behind. She suffered minor injuries, for which she says the man apologized immediately.

According to her, Terry Sanderson, 76, a retired optometrist, said he couldn’t clearly remember what had happened after the “full body hit”. But to Ms Paltrow, the incident is as clear as day.

His version of events is rather different. This is everything we know:

Injuries include ‘permanent traumatic brain injury’ and ‘four broken ribs’

Mr Sanderson, 76, says the movie star and Goop CEO was the one who crashed into him, and with such force that he was left with “permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement,” according to Law & Crime.

The two of them are now heading to trial to decide who’s responsible to pay damages. The trial is scheduled to start on 21 March.

The ski version of a hit and run

Mr Sanderson is arguing that Ms Paltrow is essentially guilty of the ski version of a hit and run. In his complaint filed in 2019, he alleges that after the collision, she “got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured”.

“A Deer Valley ski instructor, who had been training Ms. Paltrow, but who did not see the crash, skied over, saw the injured Sanderson and skied off, falsely accusing Sanderson of having caused the crash,” the complaint states.

Ms Paltrow on the other hand, claims that her instructor did in fact witness the collision.

The rule of the hills in Utah is that those ahead of you have the right of way and that those coming from behind have to avoid others. Both Mr Sanderson and Ms Paltrow claim that they were lower down on the mountain.

Retired optometrist heard ‘hysterical screaming’ before collision

Mr Sanderson alleges that Ms Paltrow was coming down the beginner slope of Bandana Run on Flagstaff mountain in an “out-of-control” manner, according to Court TV.

He claims that she struck him so hard that he was knocked out. At a press conference in 2019, he said that moments before the collision, he “heard this just hysterical screaming like … King Kong in the jungle or something”.

Terry Sanderson during a press conference in 2019 (KUTV)
Terry Sanderson during a press conference in 2019 (KUTV)

He said at the time that he thought the speed at which Ms Paltrow was allegedly coming at him could explain the extent of his injuries. “A little bitty bullet can make a big hole,” he said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The man skiing with the film star was Eric Christiansen. At first, he and the Deer Valley Resort Company were named in the petition. They were later removed when a judge restricted the argument to be about the collision and to being between Ms Paltrow and Mr Sanderson, with the hit-and-run issue removed from the dispute.

The ruling led to the claim now being one of negligence against Ms Paltrow for allegedly causing the crash while what took place afterwards is out of bounds for the proceedings, KSL reported.

“No one with knowledge of Ms. Paltrow’s post-collision actions claims to have observed Paltrow acting recklessly,” the judge wrote in his order. “Even when interpreted in the light most favorable to [Sanderson], the undisputed facts fail to support his claim that Paltrow’s post-collision actions were likely to result in substantial harm, that they were highly unreasonable or an extreme departure from ordinary care, or that they came with an apparent and high degree of danger.”

What started out as a lawsuit claiming $3.1m in damages is now a $300,000 claim against Ms Paltrow, who in response is seeking a single dollar in damages and for her legal fees to be covered.