31 Mar 2023, 09:56

Gwyneth Paltrow not liable in ski crash lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, March 31, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Gwyneth Paltrow is not liable for an accident on a swanky US ski slope, a jury ruled Thursday, as it dismissed a claim from a retired optometrist.

Terry Sanderson, 76, had alleged a collision in Utah with the star left him with four broken ribs and lasting psychological damage, for which he demanded she pay $3.3 million.

Paltrow countersued for a symbolic $1.

After an eight-day civil trial, the jury in Park City unanimously found the "Shakespeare in Love" actress did not cause the 2016 crash, a position she had maintained all along.

"I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity," Paltrow, 50, said after the verdict.

"I am pleased with the outcome," she added.

The live-streamed hearing sparked headlines around the world, and became a hot topic on social media, generating memes and making perhaps unwitting stars of the lawyers involved.

The Oscar-winner was in court every day, listening attentively to evidence, including Sanderson's claims that she had run into him with such force that he became airborne.

"I got hit in my back so hard and it was right at my shoulder blades, a serious, serious smack. I've never been hit that hard, and I'm flying," he told the jury earlier.

"Last thing I remember, everything was black."

The plaintiff said the crash, which happened at the tony Deer Valley resort, had left him with permanent brain damage and had altered his personality such that he could no longer enjoy life.

"These are golden years," attorney Lawrence Buhler told the jury Thursday before they began their deliberations.

"These are the most valuable years when you can enjoy your retirement and actually do things like travel.

"Terry doesn't want to be brain injured. He wants to live life to its fullest," Buhler said.

"He's got this issue that a big part of him was left up on that... ski run."

Buhler asked the jury to award Sanderson $33 for every waking hour since the incident and continuing until his death, which he said actuarial tables indicate might come in 10 years.

That amounts to "$3,276,000 for the 17 years that Terry has to deal with this permanent brain injury."

- Defied physics -

Paltrow's defense team assembled a bevvy of experts who testified that Sanderson's version of the crash defied the laws of physics.

They said that evidence showed he had run into the back of her while she was on the slopes with her children, Apple and Moses.

Others noted that several of Sanderson's medical complaints -- including problems with executive functioning -- existed before the crash.

They also noted that he had previously suffered a stoke and had poor vision in one eye.

Lawyer Stephen Owens also produced a raft of photographs posted on Sanderson's social media accounts after the incident showing him travelling all over the world, and even skiing.

The jury was sequestered for around two hours before they returned to completely deny Sanderson's claim, and to award Paltrow the $1 that she had asked for.

As she left the courtroom, Paltrow bent over to speak to Sanderson.

He later told reporters that she had "wished me well."

The judge will later rule on the question of legal fees, with Paltrow claiming Sanderson should meet her costs.

One of Paltrow's lawyers, James Egan, said in his summing up that Sanderson needed, for his own good, to move on from the events of 2016.

"You heard from his own expert... that he's obsessed with this case and it's not good for him, that moving on would be helpful for him," Egan told the jury.

"Miss Paltrow wants him off the mountain, too. But she should not be responsible for the cost of that."