Award-winning actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow is no stranger to the spotlight or controversy, but she has recently been all over the headlines due to a court case for a "hit-and-run" ski collision that allegedly left an elderly man injured. In the courtroom on Wednesday, Gwyneth seemed bored at best, and TikTok pounced on the footage to share her facial expressions that showed she was over the whole situation. Many users accused her of having RBF (resting b*tch face). Others even pointed out that her aesthetic perfectly fits someone who is standing trial for a ski collision accident: white, lush turtleneck with glasses and sleek hair parted down the middle.
But while the Gwyneth RBF memes are going viral, many are left wondering why she's even in court and what she's on trial for. The ski accident in question happened in 2016, and it has led to a long legal battle that is finally being resolved in the courtroom.
Gwyneth Paltrow Is Being Sued for a "Hit-and-Run" Ski Accident
In February 2016, Gwyneth was skiing at a Deer Valley resort in Utah, when a man named Terry Sanderson claims she hit him so hard that he fell, broke his ribs, and even suffered permanent brain damage and emotional distress. Terry, who was 69 years old at the time, was on the beginner course called "Bandana" when he said he heard a "hysterical scream" that sounded like "King Kong came out of the jungle." That's when he saw Gwyneth behind him, skiing toward him at a rapid pace, right before she collided with him. Over the last several years, the two have been stuck in a legal battle. Dozens of motions have been filed, and now Terry has brought a $300,000 negligence lawsuit against her.
The courtroom trial that produced the RBF memes is set to take place over the course of eight days. Terry filed a lawsuit against Gwyneth in 2019; however, she claims that he is only suing her to exploit her fame and wealth. The judge threw out the initial claim for $13.1 million, ruling that Terry wasn't entitled to punitive damages. The claim has been edited to "more than $300,000."
"He demanded Ms. Paltrow pay him millions. If she did not pay, she would face negative publicity resulting from his allegations," Gwyneth's attorneys wrote in a 2019 court filing.
Ski accidents are not uncommon, but generally, it's the responsibility of the person uphill to keep an eye out for any skiers downhill; in other words, the downhill skier has the right of way. According to NSAA, there were 57 reported fatal ski accidents during the 2021-2022 ski season. 95% of these fatalities were men.
Some doctors took the stand in the court case to try and prove that Terry suffered permanent damage due to Gwyneth's actions, and Dr. Wendell Gibby claimed that Terry, who is now 76 years old, "deteriorated abruptly" after the accident. Dr. Gibby also said, according to the brain images, Terry's head trauma was very likely caused by the collision with Gwyneth.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Samuel Goldstein says the ski accident caused an "acute rapid downturn" in Terry's health and asked the jurors to use their common sense when coming to a decision in this case.
Gwyneth is set to testify on Friday, and her two children, Apple and Moses, are also expected to take the stand and give their accounts of what happened that day.
"So what it's going to come down to is, the jury is going to listen to everybody about the collision itself and the aftermath and decide who they think is credible and who isn't," attorney David Cutt said. "And the fact that it's Gwyneth Paltrow is the big elephant in the room."