Mar 30, 2023 - Economy

Gwyneth Paltrow not responsible for ski collision, jury finds

Gwyneth Paltrow enters the courtroom for her trial in Park City, Utah. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

A jury sided with actress Gwyneth Paltrow on Thursday in a civil trial centered around a 2016 ski collision involving a retired optometrist at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

Details: The eight jurors came to their verdict nearly two hours after attorneys made their closing arguments on the eighth and final day of the case.

  • They determined Terry Sanderson, 76, was solely responsible for the crash.

Catch up quick: Sanderson sued Paltrow, 50, in 2019, claiming the Goop founder "skied out of control" on a slope and knocked him over, leaving him with four broken ribs, brain damage and other injuries, according to the lawsuit.

  • Sanderson originally sought $3.1 million in damages, but it was later reduced to $300,000.
  • In response, Paltrow countersued for a symbolic $1, attorney fees, and asserted Sanderson was the one who collided into her.

What they're saying: "We're pleased with this outcome," Stephen Owens, one of Paltrow's lawyers, said outside the courthouse following the verdict. "Gwyneth has always had a history of advocating for what she believes in."

  • "I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity," Paltrow said in a statement.
  • Sanderson told reporters the trial was "absolutely not" worth it.

Between the lines: The trial unfolded in Park City, an opulent resort town where celebrities have flocked for the Sundance Film Festival since the 1980s.

The big picture: Attorneys for both parties relied on expert witnesses to answer the key question of the trial: Who hit whom?

  • The 1962 Skier Responsibility Code declares downhill skiers have the right-of-way and must be avoided by uphill skiers.
  • Sanderson's attorneys argued Paltrow fled the scene without leaving contact information.

Meanwhile, Paltrow's attorneys asserted Sanderson was trying to capitalize on the actor's celebrity status.

Zoom out: The celebrity trial has become a spectacle, garnering substantial media attention, spurring memes, and discussions about wealth and class and appearing as a segment on the "Daily Show" that poked fun at the "whiteness" of the case.

  • A live stream of the trial on YouTube had received more than 134,000 views by Thursday evening.
  • The case drew comparisons to "The White Lotus," a popular HBO series about privileged vacation goers clashing at luxury resorts, the Associated Press reported.
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