Gwyneth Paltrow awarded $1 and cleared of fault over ski crash

Friday, 31 March 2023 - 10:23 pm

A jury has found US actress Gwyneth Paltrow was not at fault for a 2016 ski crash at a resort in Utah.

Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, had said Ms Paltrow crashed into him, leaving him with life-changing injuries.

He sought $300,000 (£245,000) in damages.

Ms Paltrow, 50, blamed him for the accident, countersuing for $1 plus legal fees.

Listening to the verdict in court, Ms Paltrow was expressionless, staring straight ahead and appearing to nod slightly. She then left the courtroom, declining requests for comments.

On her way out, she briefly stopped to speak to Mr Sanderson. He later said she told him: “I wish you well.”

Contradictory stories

Speaking to media outside, her lawyer Steve Owens said Ms Paltrow “has a history of advocating for what she believes in”.

“This situation was no different and she will continue to stand up for what is right,” he said.

Afterwards Mr Sanderson called the verdict “very disappointing” and maintained he had been the one hit on the slope.

The two-week trial heard from dozens of witnesses with contradictory stories about who crashed in to whom.

After three hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously found Mr Sanderson entirely at fault for the incident, and awarded Ms Paltrow $1.

In Mr Sanderson’s telling, the Oscar winner slammed in to him on a beginner slope at Deer Valley Resort in Park City. Ms Paltrow then skied away while he remained unconscious in the snow with broken ribs, Mr Sanderson said.

The accident left him with life-altering brain trauma, he testified.

On the stand, Ms Paltrow offered an entirely different account of the accident, saying Mr Sanderson had skied directly into her back as she went down the slope with her two children.

“I thought, ‘Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really, really strange,’“ she said in her testimony.

Mr Sanderson was conscious when she skied away, Paltrow said, and even apologised to her.

Paltrow’s lawyers worked to undermine Mr Sanderson’s claim that his health was ruined by the crash, pointing out a long list of trips he took after the accident to South America, Europe and Morocco.

And they accused Mr Sanderson of trying to exploit their client’s fame, asking about an email he sent to his daughters shortly after the collision, in which he wrote: “I’m famous”.

The closely watched case hinged on skiing etiquette, with both parties claiming that they were the downhill skier and therefore had right of way.

But the testimony also contained several inadvertently funny moments, with lawyers asking Ms Paltrow about her height, her fashion, and how close she was with singer Taylor Swift.

“I would not say we’re good friends. We are friendly,” Ms Paltrow replied.

There was also a mini courtroom battle over the provision of a “gift” from Ms Paltrow to court security staff, which was ultimately denied by the judge. One of Ms Paltrow’s security guards later told BBC News that she had wanted to buy them lunch.

And in another exchange, Kristan VanOrman, one of Mr Sanderson’s lawyers, told Ms Paltrow during cross-examination that she was jealous of her height.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, the lawyer said she was “not starstruck” during the trial. “I have a newfound appreciation for Ms Paltrow if she has to deal with all this [media attention] on a daily basis,” she said.

Source: BBC

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