A jury sided with actress Gwyneth Paltrow on Thursday, deciding she was not at fault in a 2016 skiing accident involving a retired Utah optometrist who suffered broken ribs and a concussion after the fall.
Terry Sanderson filed a $300,000 lawsuit against Paltrow, alleging that reckless skiing caused her to rear-end him on February 26, 2016, at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort. The crash left Sanderson with four broken ribs, a concussion and lasting brain damage that affected his daily life and his personal relationships, he said.
The jury, which began deliberations earlier in the afternoon, agreed that Sanderson was in fact at fault, not Paltrow.
Paltrow countersued for $1 as well as her legal fees, insisting that she did not meet with Sanderson.
«I felt that agreeing to a false claim compromised my integrity,» Paltrow said in a statement after the verdict. «I am pleased with the outcome and appreciate all of the hard work by Judge Holmberg and the jury, and I thank them for their consideration in handling this case.»
Paltrow told the court that it was Sanderson who was at fault for the collision. She testified that she initially believed she was being assaulted when a man came up behind her, placed her skis between hers and groaned.
«Mr. Sanderson categorically beat me on the ski slope, and that is the truth,» Paltrow testified.
He also disputed the account of Sanderson’s witness, Craig Ramon, who was with a meetup group Sanderson had organized to ski that day. Ramon is the only person who described witnessing the accident and testified that he was about 35 feet behind Paltrow and Sanderson.
Ramón told the court that he heard a scream and then, a few seconds later, saw Paltrow hit Sanderson from behind. He said Sanderson was briefly unconscious and face down in the snow. Ramón testified that Paltrow left after about four minutes without identifying herself or waiting to see if Sanderson was okay.
Paltrow denied Ramón’s accusations and questioned his reliability.
“He said he was 40 feet away and he was color blind,” Paltrow said. «I don’t know how he can be positive about what he saw, especially with how much it changed his story.»
Paltrow also denied leaving the accident before Sanderson informed the group that he was okay, saying the instructor handled the situation on his behalf. The instructor filed a report and shared the information from him after the report, he said.
The instructor’s report for that day said a skier hit Paltrow.
After the accident, Paltrow had lunch with her two children and the man who is now her husband before giving up the rest of the ski day with knee pain. Her children, Apple and Moses Martin, testified that her mother was in shock and had told them that Sanderson ran into her.
Apple Martin, 18, who was 12 at the time, testified that although she did not see the accident, she remembered that her mother was in «shock» that day.
Sanderson, 76, alleged that the accident left him with a traumatic brain injury that affected his cognitive functions in a way that negatively affected his daily life and personal relationships. Paltrow’s lawyers attributed Sanderson’s decline to pre-existing medical conditions and aging and called medical experts to the stand to back up his claims.
Paltrow’s lawyers also cited previous failed relationships and a statement from one of Sanderson’s daughters, who appears to be estranged from her father, to challenge the idea that brain injury is the sole cause of her strained personal life.