Who skied against whom?
After just over two hours of deliberation, a Utah jury unanimously decided that it was Gwyneth Paltrow who was run over by retired optometrist Terry Sanderson on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort more than seven years ago, not the other way around. .
The verdict is a blow to Sanderson, who has filed the lawsuit against Paltrow seeking $300,000 in damages for the injuries she sustained after she allegedly rammed him. It’s a vindication for the Oscar-winning actress, who countersued Sanderson for $1 and legal fees, saying he was at fault in the 2016 skiing accident.
Sanderson, 76, bowed her head as Judge Kent Holmberg read the jury’s decision Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the 50-year-old actress remained quite expressionless, offering only a brief nod and a small smile to her lawyers and her jury.
“I felt that accepting a false claim compromised my integrity,” Paltrow said in a statement through her attorneys.
“I am pleased with the outcome and appreciate all the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and I thank them for their consideration in handling this case,” added Paltrow.
Over the course of the trial, jurors heard from experts in science and medicine, eyewitnesses, including written testimony from Paltrow’s children, and the famous actress herself.
Each legal team offered mourning versions of what happened on the mountain that day.
Sanderson’s lawyers argued that Paltrow was recklessly skiing down a mountain when she collided with him with a speed that sent him “flying” through the air. As a result, he said, he suffered four broken ribs and lifelong brain damage.
“All I saw was a lot of snow. And I didn’t see the sky, but it was flying,” he testified last week.
During closing arguments, his lawyer, Robert Sykes, rejected claims that Sanderson is seeking fame and attention.
“Part of Terry will always be in Bandara’s career,” Sykes told the jury. “Take Terry home.”
Lawrence Buhler, another of his attorneys, told the jury to consider awarding his client $3.2 million in damages.
“When people get to know him, after a while, they don’t want to deal with him anymore,” Buhler said, adding that he has known Sanderson for six years.
Buhler suggested that Sanderson’s personality has changed drastically during that period and that it has caused people to push him away. “You lose everyone: your family, they will put up with you, and maybe the lawyers. But really, they just put up with you,” Buhler added.
Meanwhile, Paltrow’s legal team maintained that she was the victim in both the ski resort incident and the subsequent legal battle that has dragged on for years.
Paltrow testified that she had been skiing with her children when Sanderson hit her from behind. In the confusion and shock of her beating, she told the jury that she thought someone was trying to sexually assault her.
She described her skis getting between hers, forcing her legs apart, and that she heard a “growling noise” before they landed on the ground together.
His lawyer, Stephen Owens, also spent time questioning Sanderson about the severity of his injuries, questioning him about various trips and activities the retiree posted on social media after the so-called hit-and-run.
During closing arguments, he told the jury that Paltrow had decided to take a stand fighting Sanderson’s case. Owens said it would have been “easy” for Paltrow to “write a check and be done with it”, but that would have been wrong.
He added: “It’s actually wrong that he hurt her and he wants money from her.”
Now, it’s clear that you won’t have to pay for it.