Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand Friday in a Utah courtroom where she’s fighting a civil lawsuit claiming she crashed into a retired optometrist while skiing, causing him to suffer multiple injuries including broken ribs, diminished brain function and mental-health issues.
And as expected, the “Iron Man” star told the jury – every chance she got – that she was the victim of being crashed into on that Deer Valley bunny hill in 2016.
Paltrow was sworn in at midday and began taking questions after a lawyer for the plaintiff noted that while most witnesses were asked to their background first, “It’s safe to assume everyone in this courtroom knows who you are.” They did, and got right to the incident.
Paltrow said she was going down the hill “relatively slow” with an instructor after her two children, then 11 and 9, had skied ahead, when she heard a “strange rustling noise” behind her.
“Two skis slid between my skis, and all of a sudden there was a … body pressing into my back,” she said. Paltrow said the two of them fell to the ground into a “spooning” position, and she instantly knew it was a man because “he was making some strange noises and sounded male.”
“I was confused at first, it’s a very strange thing to happen on a ski slope,” Paltrow said. “And I froze, and I got very upset a couple of seconds later … I didn’t know if it was an intentional assualt of a sexual nature.” Paltrow admitted that she cursed at Sanderson and was visibly upset.
“Was he grinding or thrusting?” the plaintiff’s attorney asked. Paltrow said he was not – and that the moment of high emotion was fueled by the nature of the crash.
“That was a quick thought that went through my head when I tried to reconcile what happened,” said Paltrow. “Two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart, and I thought … is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted?”
“I didn’t know if it was an accident, but he was groaning and grunting in a very disturbing way,” she added.
Paltrow has been in court every day since Tuesday, when the civil trial got underway with testimony from various forensic experts, medical doctors and members of the plaintiff’s family who detailed his rapid decline after the collision. Terry Sanderson, now 76, says Paltrow crashed into him from behind while on a 2016 family ski vacation, and is suing for $300,000.
Paltrow has counter-sued for $1 plus legal fees.
The plaintiff’s lawyer grilled Paltrow about whether she checked in on Sanderson’s condition in the hours or days after the crash. She said she had not, using the opportunity to once again reiterate that she was crashed into: “When you’re the victim of a crash, your psychology is not about the person who perpetrated it,” she said.
Whether asked or not, Paltrow must have found a dozen or more opportunities on Friday to say that Sanderson was uphill from her and crashed into her back, causing them to both fall to the ground. “I was skied directly into by Mr. Sanderson,” she said at one point, clamping down on every word.
Later, she again said quite pointedly: “Mr. Sanderson categorically hit me on that ski slope. And that is the truth.”
Paltrow was also asked point-blank about the previous testimony of Craig Ramon, a friend of Sanderson’s two was at the resort and testified earlier this week that he saw Paltrow crash into him. “What he said is not the truth,” Paltrow responded. “I don’t know if he knows he’s lying, but what he’s saying is not the truth.”
Paltrow was asked why she didn’t have any witnesses to say she was the more downhill of the two skiers.
“I have a lot of witnesses who saw the split-seconds after the collision,” she said, “and saw the positions of the bodies on the mountain that would indicate who hit who.”
The trial had originally only been expected to take a week, but testimony will now spill over to Monday, with attorneys expecting to send the case to the jury late next week.