The civil case to determine who was at fault in a 2016 ski collision between Gwyneth Paltrow and Terry Sanderson came to a conclusion on Thursday afternoon, as the jury ruled in Paltrow’s favour, winning the high-profile civil court case.
Sanderson sued Paltrow in 2019, claiming that the actress and Goop founder had struck him from behind while skiing “out of control” at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, before ski-fleeing the scene, leaving the retired optometrist with four broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury.
Sanderson initially sued Paltrow for $3.1 million before amending his ask to $300,000 in damages. Paltrow countersued Sanderson for a symbolic $1, plus legal fees, and denied his account, saying that Sanderson slammed into her on the slopes and that his only aim in suing her was to exploit her celebrity and wealth.
“He hit her, he hurt her, and he wants $3 million for it,” Paltrow’s attorney Stephen Owens said as part of his closing argument on Thursday. “It’s actually wrong that he hurt her and he wants money from her, and that’s why we’re here.”
Throughout the two-week-long, highly publicized trial—which at one point caught the attention of unexpected commentator O.J. Simpson—Owens frequently protested press intrusions such as a “new camera” following the courtroom action.
Much of the trial was devoted to analyzing the status of Sanderson’s physical and mental health before and after the accident. The plaintiff offered emotional testimony earlier this week, tearing up while he spoke about an ex-girlfriend he said he’d broken up with after the crash because he wasn’t sure if he’d recover from his injuries.
“I can’t ski anymore,” Sanderson said in court. “I was told if I did and I had another crash, I could wind up full time in a nursing home.”
Sanderson testified that emailing his daughters “I’m famous” after the accident with Paltrow was “a crazy thing to say.” (Nevertheless, he did do it.)
Sanderson also bizarrely compared Paltrow to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein while testifying on Wednesday.
“This is obviously an issue that someone needs to be accountable for, and if they’re never accountable, what are they gonna do? They’re gonna do it again,” Sanderson said on the stand. “Now we have the…molesting of young children on an island.”
Paltrow, appalled, glanced at her lawyer, who appealed to the judge. The judge then told the jury to disregard Sanderson’s comment.
In contrast to the sometimes-erratic Sanderson, Paltrow, who always maintained that it was he who skied into her and not the other way around, was as consistently composed as her designer outfits.
She testified that when the collision with Sanderson happened, she briefly wondered if she was being sexually assaulted.
“I was skiing, and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart, and then there was a body pressing against me, and there was a very strange grunting noise,” Paltrow said in court last Friday. “So my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening. I thought, ‘Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really, really strange.’ My mind was going very, very quickly, and I was trying to ascertain what was happening.”
She recalled: “I said, ‘You skied directly into my effing back,’ and he said, ‘Oh sorry, sorry, I’m sorry.’”
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