Gwyneth Paltrow wins ski-crash trial as jury puts ‘100%’ of fault on plaintiff

Gwyneth Paltrow enters a courtroom wearing a blue jacket and white collared shirt
Gwyneth Paltrow enters a Park City, Utah, courtroom Thursday.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
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A civil jury sided with Gwyneth Paltrow on Thursday, finding her not at fault in a Deer Valley Resort skiing collision with a retired doctor.

The jury in Park City, Utah, found former optometrist Terry Sanderson completely responsible for the incident and awarded Paltrow $1 in damages, the amount the actor and wellness influencer had asked for in her counterclaim.

There was no disagreement that Paltrow and Sanderson collided that day on the slopes. But throughout a civil trial over the past eight days, two wildly opposing narratives emerged.


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“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity,” Paltrow said after the verdict in a statement released by her representatives. She also thanked the judge and jury for their work.

As Paltrow left court she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and said, “I wish you well,” Sanderson told reporters outside the courthouse. He said he responded, “Thank you, dear.”

Outside the courthouse, Stephen Owens, an attorney for the actor, said, “Gwyneth has a history of advocating for what the believes in. This situation is no different, and she will continue to stand up for what is right.”

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Meanwhile, Sanderson seemed unfazed by his defeat, speaking briefly to reporters outside the courtroom about things that had boosted his mood when he was down.

Sanderson, who sued Paltrow, accused the Goop founder of negligence and slamming into his back on the slopes of Utah’s Deer Valley Resort, leaving him with broken ribs and brain injuries. His attorneys called on medical experts, relatives and friends, all of whom painted a picture of a man whose health and quality of life have deteriorated since the crash.

Paltrow’s attorneys countered by saying Sanderson struck the Oscar-winning actress. Paltrow testified, “Mr. Sanderson categorically hit me on that ski slope.” The defense also presented medical evidence that claims the 76-year-old man was simply succumbing to natural aging and health conditions that existed before the crash.


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Jurors were left to choose which story to believe and decide whether Paltrow acted negligently during the collision, as the trial wrapped Thursday. The lawsuit, filed in 2019, originally sought $3 million but now is seeking more than $300,000 in damages. Paltrow countersued for $1 and attorney fees.

The deliberation was short: around 2½ hours.

As the jury read their decision, Paltrow sat with her hands folded, facing forward and maintaining a somber expression. Sanderson sat with his head bowed as his attorneys patted him on the back.

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Much of Sanderson’s argument leaned on the recollections of a ski acquaintance, Craig Ramon, who his attorneys claimed was the sole witness to the crash. In closing arguments, attorneys for Sanderson reminded the jury of Ramon’s testimony, in which he said he saw a skier, later identified as Paltrow, “just slam into the back of Terry,” knocking him unconscious while the actor “bolted away.”

“He has no dog in the fight,” one of Sanderson’s lawyers, Robert Sykes, said of Ramon. “He’s independently wealthy. He has no reason, no motive to falsify this.”

Attorneys for Paltrow attempted to poke holes in Ramon’s testimony during their closing arguments by pointing to the absence of any facial injuries to Sanderson and the fact that his skis remained intact despite the apparently hard collision.

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“It’s not a believable story,” attorney Owens said.

The defense also played an animated reconstruction of the incident based on testimony of Paltrow, her son, Moses, and Eric Christensen, a ski instructor who was with the family on the slopes that day. The reconstruction showed Sanderson as the uphill skier.


The central question throughout the trial has been one of skiing rules and etiquette, which gives the downhill skier the right of way and places the responsibility on the uphill skier to avoid anyone on their way down.

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The trial, which has been broadcast live, has generated much public interest. There has been much buzz about Paltrow’s lament of losing “half a day of skiing” when questioned on the reason for her counterclaim against Sanderson. Some laughed at the comment for being out of touch.

Then there was the moment when Paltrow attempted to provide treats for the bailiffs, which the judge did not allow. Others have zoomed in on Paltrow’s courtroom fashion. Many fixated on cringey-sweet exchanges between one of Sanderson’s attorneys, Kristin Vanorman, and Paltrow, who peppered each other with compliments during questioning.

Behind these memorable and meme-able moments were attempts by Sanderson’s attorneys to cast Paltrow as an entitled celebrity who was fleeing responsibility. Paltrow’s attorneys, meanwhile, painted Sanderson as the one chasing celebrity, trying to wring money from a successful entrepreneur.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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