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Insides the courtroom of Gwyneth Paltrow's collision lawsuit

An eight-person Park City jury has found Paltrow not at fault for a ski collision back in 2016 at the Deer Valley Resort. Retired doctor Terry Sanderson who was on the opposite end on of the trial now owes Paltrow a total of $1 in damages.


The lawsuit began and ended in Utah, at Deer Valley Resort where Paltrow and Sanderson collided on a ski resort. Following each party blaming the other, Sanderson set out to sue Paltrow for $300,000 in damages. Sanderson claimed in the “over 30 years” he skied, he “never knocked anybody down or hurt them.” CNN obtained court documents that show Sanderson allegedly claiming that Paltrow “skied out of control … knocking him down hard.” According to The Washington Post, Paltrow has stated she received a quick apology from Sanderson after the collision who took responsibility for the incident. 


Three years after this incident, Sanderson filed a lawsuit against Paltrow with the total he initially was seeking being an enormous $3.1 million. This was on the grounds of the incident leaving him with a brain injury and four broken ribs. Sanderson claimed he thought “there was a point in this whole thing, many times, I thought [an apology] would be sufficient” but he never received one. Heather Wilson, Paltrow’s representative, starkly reacted to the initial lawsuit telling ABC News, that the lawsuit was completely “without merit” and that “anyone who reads the facts will realise that.” This led to Paltrow’s countersuit of the symbolic $1. A symbolic $1 lawsuit is not foreign in celebrity lawsuits, with Taylor Swift famously suing her assaulter for $1 – a case that was even referenced by Sanderson’s lawyers in their interrogation of Paltrow. 


In 2022, a Utah Judge dismissed the case, claiming it was “not a hit-and-run ski crash.” This came after evidence was provided that Paltrow remained at the scene for a reasonable amount of time, in order to check no significant damage was caused, and no emotional trauma could be left. This led to Sanderson reducing damages to $300,000 and an alteration with the claim Paltrow caused a negligent injury.


The new trial then began on March 21st, seven years after the initial collision. An acquaintance of Sanderson, Craig Ramon was the only eyewitness and therefore was the first called to the stand. Ramon recalled the crash, saying he heard a scream and watched as a skier slammed into the back of Sanderson. Ramon described Paltrow’s ski instructor as “very hostile,” continuously yelling, “what did you do?” but did also concede that despite Sanderson’s “advanced expert” skier status he “just wasn’t the same skier as he was the previous year.”


Paltrow was next to take the stand, as The Washington Post reported how she claimed she initially thought the crash was a “practical joke” as she wondered “is someone doing something perverted? This is really, really strange.” Conflicting to Ramon’s testimony, she did not make any scream upon impact. 


A rather interesting aspect of the case came from the infamous “I’m famous” email. Sanderson was questioned about an email he sent his daughters after the crash, where he said, “I’m famous.” In this email, Sanderson also highlighted he couldn’t believe it “was all on GoPro” though the alleged GoPro footage did not make it to evidence in the trial. Sanderson blamed his “crazy” “I’m famous” reaction on this “other personality” that is consuming his body due to the actions of Gwyneth Paltrow. 


Per the New York Post, Sanderson’s daughter took the stand and testified how her father’s personality changed following the incident. She discussed how her father became an “angry person” and denied claims that he was verbally abusive prior to the collision – “writing this wrong for him has really kind of consumed him, he wanted to make it right.” The BBC reported how in Sanderson’s closing statements, his Attorney Robert Sykes proclaimed how “Terry went out for a fun day of skiing. He never came back that night as the same person.” Countering this, Paltrow’s defence in their closing statements branded Sanderson as a man who “likes to be in the spotlight.” 


The jury in the end sided with Paltrow, finding her not at fault and in turn, Sanderson at the fault of the crash. They also claimed 100% of responsibility lies with Sanderson, wavering Paltrow of any liability.


In their final parting, Paltrow addressed her opposition directly upon her exit, simply telling him: “I wish you well.”


Editorial Credit: Sushmita Regmi

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