She was spotted leaving a courthouse in Park City, Utah, in some truly immaculate looks we dubbed ‘courtcore’ here at StyleCaster, but if you didn’t know why Gwyneth Paltrow was on trial, here’s everything that happened.
The Iron Man star was in the news cycle a fair bit in March 2023, first for her controversial and “disordered” diet and wellness claims and now for a civil lawsuit stemming from an incident in 2019. On an episode of The Art of Being Well podcast which dropped on March 13, 2023, Paltrow was asked to describe her daily routine from a diet and exercise perspective and an excerpt was shared to TikTok.
“I usually eat something about 12, and in the morning I’ll have some things that won’t spike my blood sugar, so I have coffee, but I really like soup for lunch,” she said. “I have bone broth for lunch.” She added that she likes to do an “hour of movement” every day as well as 30 minutes in her infrared sauna. “Then for dinner, I try to eat, you know, according to paleo, so lots of vegetables. It’s really important for me to support my detox,” she concluded. Naturally, the backlash against the clip was palpable. We’re now talking about her for an entirely different reason.
Why was Gwyneth Paltrow on trial? Paltrow was on trial after a retired optometrist and military veteran accused her of crashing into him while skiing at the upscale Deer Valley Resort in Park City on February 26, 2016. Terry Sanderson claimed they collided and she skied away, despite the crash leaving him “face down in the snow, unconscious,” per one of his attorneys, Lawrence Buhler, described (Washington Post). He initially sought $3 million in damages in the lawsuit filed in 2019 before dropping the amount to $300,000. In a counterclaim, Paltrow sued Sanderson for $1 plus legal fees.
In court on March 21, 2023, Buhler said the Goop founder had turned to watch her children ski and “as she turns her head back down, she screams, then skis into the back of Terry Sanderson.” The accident had a lasting impact on Sanderson, according to his attorneys, who said Paltrow’s “neglect, her choices and her disregard for other people on the mountain all combined together” to cause the life-changing brain injury. “Before this crash, Terry was an outgoing, charming, gregarious person,” Buhler said. “But after the crash, he’s no longer charming.”
Court documents say his injuries include “permanent traumatic brain injury, 4 broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement,” and add that Sanderson “will continue to suffer injuries and damages in the future,” per the New York Times. Citing x-rays, brain scans and neurological tests documenting Sanderson’s alleged injuries, two doctors were called to testify.
Dr. Samuel Goldstein, a neuropsychologist, called Sanderson’s post-crash trajectory an “acute rapid downturn… Were it not for that particular accident, the life he was living in the six months to a year before that … he would continue to be living,” he said. Dr. Wendell Gibby, a radiologist, also testified that Sanderson “deteriorated abruptly” after the accident, per AP.
It’s a classic case of he-said-she-said, as Paltrow claims Sanderson was the one who crashed into her. “She’s skiing, enjoying herself,” her attorney Stephen Owens said in court. “Suddenly she sees two skis appear between her skis. And a man comes up right behind her,” adding that she thought, “Am I being assaulted?” Another element of Paltrow’s defense is citing the 76-year-old’s existing health problems that could have contributed to the crash.
According to court documents, Mr. Sanderson, who was 69 at the time, had told his doctor about a year earlier that he was blind in his right eye and that vision in his left eye was declining. “He’s aging, he has prior problems, and he’s now obsessed, essentially, with this lawsuit,” said Owens. “I don’t want to seem like I’m beating up on a kindly old man, but keep in mind we have to do this because they’ve said Gwyneth owes me $3 million.”
According to a report filed by AP, Paltrow accused Sanderson of trying to exploit her wealth and fame. “She did not knock him down,” Paltrow’s court filing said. “He knocked her down. He was not knocked out.” Her legal response to Sanderson also called his lawsuit an “attempt to exploit her celebrity and wealth.” The question of who’s in the wrong hinges on skiing etiquette. Both Paltrow and Sanderson claimed they were the downhill skier, meaning they had right-of-way on the beginner’s slope.
What was the verdict in Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski collision trial? Gwyneth was declared “Gwynnocent” and found not liable for the incident on Thursday, March 30, 2023. A jury deliberated for a little over two hours before siding with Paltrow, who claimed Sanderson was the one that collided with her on a ski slope in Park City Utah.
“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity. I am pleased with the outcome and I appreciate all of the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and thank them for their thoughtfulness in handling this case,” Paltrow said, per CNN.
The Oscar winner was seen to be whispering something in Terry Sanderson’s ear as she left the courtroom; which he later revealed to be “I wish you well.” In response, he said: “Thank you, dear.”It was “very kind of her,” he told EXTRA, but that he was disappointed with the verdict.
“I brought absolutely the truth to the accident. There was no reason to wander from that and it still won’t, and I brought it for that reason,” he said. “I wanted to see if justice prevails in those situations, but it becomes character assassination… It becomes things that you thought were long gone in your life, things from 30 years ago, 40 years ago, that should be meaningless.” Did Sanderson think Paltrow was lying? He answered, “I believe she thinks she has the truth… but I absolutely know I said I would not bring any falsehoods.”
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