Gwyneth Paltrow comforts her accuser after winning ski collision court case
US film actress Gwyneth Paltrow has won her live-streamed civil lawsuit court case brought by a retired optometrist over a 2016 skiing accident which he claimed had turned him into a recluse.
"I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity," Paltrow, 50, said in a brief statement released by her lawyers after the verdict. "I am pleased with the outcome," she said.
Terry Sanderson, 76, who suffered broken ribs, said he suffered long-term damage from the collision in Utah.
He had claimed $300,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained when he collided with the Oscar-winning actress on the ski-slopes. Ms Paltrow counter-sued for one dollar and her legal fees.
The jury, in siding with Paltrow and ruling on Thursday that Sanderson was the one at fault, awarded Paltrow the $1 in symbolic damages that she had asked for in a countersuit.
The pair had a brief conversation after the verdict. Paltrow leaned over and spoke to her accuser as she left.
Sanderson says she told him "I wish you well". He told reporters his reply was "thank you dear".
The amount of money at stake in the suits paled in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multiyear lawsuit, private security detail and expert witness-heavy trial.
Paltrow's main lawyer, Steve Owens, added to the statement he read outside court that “Gwyneth has a history of advocating for what she believes in – this situation was no different and she will continue to stand up for what is right”.
After the verdict was read, the judge polled the jury, which was unanimous on the decision. In civil courts in Utah, only three-fourths of jurors need to agree on a verdict.
The legal fees Paltrow asked for in her countersuit were not included in the jury’s verdict, leaving the bulk of the final award for the Park City judge to decide.
Addressing reporters after the verdict, Mr Sanderson questioned whether the lawsuit was worth it and said he believed that people tended to naturally trust celebrities like Paltrow.
“You get some assumed credibility from being a famous person," Mr Sanderson said. "Really, who wants to take on a celebrity?”
The case also has, at times, spiralled into absurdity. Paltrow’s legal team at one point offered to bring in “treats” for the bailiffs.
Ms Paltrow, when asked how the collision affected her, replied, “Well, I lost half a day of skiing.”
Mr Sanderson, meanwhile, apologised for describing her in 2019 as screaming like “King Kong in the jungle".
Paltrow testified that she was “not engaging in any risky behaviour” and that Mr Sanderson bore responsibility for the collision because he skied “directly into my back”.
She also said that she briefly thought the collision was sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Mr Sanderson told the court that Paltrow crashed into him, and that since the collision he has become a “self-imposed recluse” who gets confused and feels unsafe.
In closing arguments on Thursday, Mr Sanderson’s lawyer, Bob Sykes, said the accident changed him dramatically.
“He never came back that night as the same Terry,” he told the jury in Park City, Utah.
“We hope you will help bring Terry home from that mountain with your verdict.”
Mr Owens, for Paltrow, said: “She has been a punching bag for two weeks.”
The judge, Kent Holmberg, allowed Paltrow to leave the courtroom discreetly first, saying ''everyone remain seated".
Throughout the trial, her legal team has tried to protect her privacy, and have complained repeatedly about cameras pointed at her in court.