Gwyneth Paltrow has won the ski crash case against retired optometrist Terry Sanderson who claimed she caused the collision in 2016 that left him with lasting brain damage.
Jurors found that Sanderson, 76, was the one to blame for the crash at the posh Utah ski resort seven years ago. It took just two hours and 20 minutes for the jury to reach their verdict on Thursday.
Paltrow’s intent expression softened and she looked over at her attorneys with a faint smile when the judge read the verdict in the Park City courtroom.
As Paltrow left court she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and said, ‘I wish you well,’ he told reporters outside the courthouse. He responded, ‘Thank you dear.’
The decision comes after eight days of live-streamed courtroom testimony that drew worldwide audiences and became a pop culture fixation.
Gwyneth Paltrow has won her case against retired optometrist Terry Sanderson who claimed she caused a 2016 ski collision that left him with him lasting brain damage
Jurors found that Sanderson, 76, was the one to blame for the crash at the posh Utah ski resort. It took just two hours and 20 minutes for the jury to reach their verdict on Thursday
The actress smiled and waved at photographers as she made her way out of court but refused to comment.
Paltrow’s attorney read a statement from the actress outside court.
Owens said: ‘We’re pleased with the outcome and appreciate the judge and jury’s consideration. Gwyneth has a history of standing up for what’s right and this situation is no different. She will continue to stand up for what’s right.’
A statement was released by her representatives.
‘I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity,’ Paltrow said. ‘I am pleased with the outcome and I appreciate all of the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and thank them for their thoughtfulness in handling this case.’
Meanwhile, a deflated Sanderson said he stands by his version of events, despite losing the case.
Asked what he plans to do next, he joked: ‘Maybe Disneyland!’
As Paltrow left court she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and said, ‘I wish you well,’ he told reporters outside the courthouse. He responded, ‘Thank you dear’
The actress smiled and waved at photographers as she made her way out of court
Meanwhile, a deflated Sanderson said he stands by his version, despite losing the case
Speaking outside court, Sanderson’s lawyer Kristin Van Orman said she was not starstruck by Paltrow and added: ‘I’ve been a lawyer for 30 years and juries never surprise me.’
Of Sanderson, she added: ‘He is suffering, he’s a very nice man.’
The dismissal concludes two weeks of courtroom proceedings that hinged largely on reputation rather than the monetary damages at stake in the case.
Paltrow’s attorneys described the complaint against her as ‘utter B.S.’ and painted the Goop founder-CEO as uniquely vulnerable to unfair, frivolous lawsuits due to her celebrity.
Paltrow took the witness stand during the trial to insist the collision wasn’t her fault, and to describe how she was stunned when she felt ‘a body pressing against me and a very strange grunting noise.’
While dad-of-three Sanderson says the actress skied into him while emitting what he described as ‘the best hysterical scream you’ve ever heard’, Paltrow says he crashed into her – causing her to lose half a day of skiing.
Sanderson filed for damages in January 2019 – initially seeking $3.1 million. The sum was reduced by a judge to $300,000 in compensation for the injuries he sustained.
Sanderson described on the stand that Paltrow hit him in the back and sent him flying
Paltrow then filed a countersuit asking for a symbolic $1 and for her legal expenses to be covered.
Sanderson’s lawyers attempted to portray their client as someone who was lively and active before the accident, but significantly altered after.
He claims that she struck him in the back 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’.
Sanderson told the court: ‘I just remember everything was great and then I heard something I’ve never heard at a ski resort, and that was a blood-curling scream.
‘And then, boom, it was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die. That’s what I [remembered] until I was hit.’
‘I got hit in my back so hard… right at my shoulder-blades, and the fists and the poles were right there at the bottom of my shoulder-blades, serious, serious smack,’ he added. ‘Never been hit that hard.’
Gwyneth Paltrow (far right) reacts during closing arguments in her ski crash trial Thursday as Terry Sanderson’s lawyer (center) told the jury that her version of the story was wrong
Paltrow, 50, who is being sued by Sanderson, gave a series of expressions during the closing arguments by Sanderson’s attorneys
In his complaint, Sanderson argued that Paltrow ‘got up, turned and skied away’ without summoning help, leaving him ‘stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured’.
Paltrow and her team said that their ski instructor was on the scene and assisted Sanderson.
Paltrow’s team argued that Sanderson’s decline, though very sad, was not connected to the accident and pointed to prior medical issues.
They also emphasized that Sanderson’s daughter Jenny said her relationship with her father was troubled for many years.
And they repeatedly noted that Sanderson had emailed his daughters, saying: ‘I’m famous.’
Worldwide audiences followed the celebrity trial as if it were episodic television. Viewers scrutinized both Paltrow and Sanderson’s motives while attorneys directed questions to witnesses that often had less to do with the collision and more to do with their client’s reputations.
The trial took place in Park City, a resort town known for hosting the annual Sundance Film Festival, where early in her career Paltrow would appear for the premieres of her movies including 1998’s ‘Sliding Doors,’ at a time when she was known primarily as an actor, not a lifestyle influencer. Paltrow is also known for her roles in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and the ‘Iron Man’ movies.