The Biggest Bombshells from Gwyneth Paltrow's Utah Ski Trial
Here are the biggest takeaways from the trial revolving around Gwyneth Paltrow and Terry Sanderson over a 2016 ski accident
Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in a Park City, Utah, courtroom for a civil lawsuit over a 2016 skiing incident. The jury ultimately found her not liable and awarded her $1 and legal fees.
Paltrow, 50, was sued by retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, who first filed a lawsuit against her back in January 2019, following a February 2016 incident where the two collided while skiing a beginner-level slope at Deer Valley Resort.
In Sanderson's 2019 lawsuit, he accused Paltrow of colliding with him from behind while she skied with an instructor and also alleged the ski instructor filed a false report claiming Paltrow did not cause the accident at the time.
A rep for Paltrow told PEOPLE at the time: "This lawsuit is completely without merit. Anyone who reads the facts will realize that." Paltrow also denied the allegations in a countersuit filed the next month, claiming that Sanderson was the one who hit her from behind and is now trying to "exploit her celebrity and wealth."
Related:Why Gwyneth Paltrow Is on Trial in Utah Over a 2016 Ski Collision
Sanderson initially sued Paltrow for $3.1 million in 2019, but a judge later ruled he could only sue for $300,000 in damages. Meanwhile, the actress countersued for $1 and attorney fees.
Before a jury was sworn in on Tuesday, March 21, Judge Kent R. Holmberg ruled that the jury will not hear arguments concerning an alleged "hit-and-run," as Dr. Sanderson claimed in his original 2019 lawsuit.
The judge said that he established, via evidence, that Paltrow had stopped and determined that Sanderson did not have any significant injuries before she and a ski instructor, who was with her at the time, left the scene of the incident.
On Thursday, March 30, the verdict was revealed after the jury deliberated for less than three hours, and Paltrow was found not responsible; instead, they said Sanderson was "100 percent" at fault and harmed Paltrow in the collision.
Read on for some of the biggest revelations from the proceedings.
Both Paltrow and Sanderson claim they were the downhill skier
Opening statements kicked off with lawyers from both sides on March 21, describing the role Paltrow and Sanderson might have played during the incident. Ski etiquette was discussed at length, a key detail at the core of the case.
According to the sport's rules, the person who is further down the mountain has the right of way. "All skiers know that when they're skiing down the mountain, it's their responsibility to yield the right of way to skiers below them," Sanderson's attorney Lawrence Buhler told jurors.
However, both sides claim they were the downhill skier. Paltrow's lawyer, Stephen Owens, said that the actress was skiing when she suddenly saw "two skis appear between her skis and a man comes up right behind her," adding that she thought she was being assaulted. Meanwhile, Buhler alleges that Paltrow "skied out of control" on the beginner's run and into Sanderson's back.
Related:Gwyneth Paltrow's Lawyer Apologizes to Witness for 'Being an Ass' During Cross Examination
Paltrow's team questions the amount of media surrounding the case
On day two of the trial, Paltrow's attorneys voiced concerns over the amount of media members present outside the Park City court and whether cameras with live video feeds placed in the courtroom should be pointed directly at the Oscar-winning actress. (The trial is being live-streamed by multiple outlets and an Associated Press photographer is posted in the courtroom.)
"We have a new camera pointed directly at my client, right there, on the right," Paltrow's attorney Stephen Owens said before proceedings began Wednesday, March 22. "And this has been a problem where, for instance, reporters being in front of my client's car going out [Tuesday]. Cameras in her face, inches away."
"I want to be advised if there are new changes, because it's just by chance that we see there's a camera pointed directly at her, which is contrary to the decorum order," he added, after Judge Kent. R. Holmberg indicated the court was working on meeting the defense's request.
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Paltrow's side says Sanderson's 'traumatic' injuries are exaggerated
During the first two days of the trial, Sanderson's attorneys argued that the retired optometrist sustained four broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury from the 2016 collision with Paltrow, after which he claims he was knocked unconscious for several minutes and did not know where he was when he regained consciousness.
"Gwyneth Paltrow skied out of control," read the claim in the lawsuit, "knocking [Sanderson] down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries. Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured."
Paltrow's attorneys, led by Owens, argued that Sanderson's injury claims were exaggerated and cited his international travel to 10 countries in the years since the incident. They also argued that a neuroradiology expert, Dr. Wendell Gibby, hired by Sanderson's attorneys did not review a 2009 MRI the plaintiff underwent years before the collision that showed the retired optometrist had sustained past brain injuries.
Gibby testified that he found it more likely that Sanderson "was struck from the left side and then hit the ground" based on the testimony of eyewitness Craig Ramon.
Related:Gwyneth Paltrow's Lawyer Apologizes to Witness for 'Being an Ass' During Cross Examination
Paltrow was introducing her kids to then-boyfriend Brad Falchuk when the accident occurred
As Paltrow's attorney Owens made his opening argument on March 21, he noted that her now-husband Brad Falchuk and his two children accompanied the Academy Award-winning actress and her daughter, Apple (now 18) and son Moses (now 16) to Deer Valley Resort for the Feb. 2016 skiing trip, where the incident occurred.
He stated that the vacation marked the couple's "first" getaway to test the blending of their families. He noted that Falchuk "has kids the exact same age as Gwyneth's daughter and son," before he describing that the trip "was a sentimental issue" for Paltrow as she wanted her children to learn to ski.
"And this was really their first trip to sort of a have a mixed, see-if-this-might-work," Owens said. "So it was a special time and it was a lovely day."
Paltrow's lawyer says that Sanderson emailed his daughter 'I'm famous' after the crash
During Owen's opening statement, he revealed that Sanderson emailed his daughter the same day of the crash to say, "I'm famous" — to which his daughter replied that she couldn't believe "[the crash] was caught on GoPro," (though he noted that the footage hasn't been recovered).
Owens also argued that Sanderson became "obsessed with this lawsuit" and noted that he is "aging" (Sanderson is now 76 years old). He said that medical witnesses would point to pre-existing medical conditions Sanderson had before the collision took place.
Dr. Alina Fong (a neuropsychologist who treated Sanderson for the first time in May 2017) later claimed in a video deposition that her client had been "struggling with concussion symptoms for a year and a half" since the incident occurred.
She reported a "myriad of symptoms" that Sanderson had experienced, citing "mood and personality changes, pain as well as headaches." She added that the incident has "affected him on so many levels" in reference to his personal life, family and relationships.
Related:Gwyneth Paltrow's 2016 Ski Trip Was 'First' Try to See If Her and Brad Falchuk's Blended Families 'Might Work'
Paltrow's lawyer apologizes for 'being an ass' during cross examination
During a cross examination on March 23, Owens grilled one of the witnesses who testified on behalf of Sanderson — that being his daughter, Polly Sanderson. After Polly told the courtroom that she noticed "something was terribly wrong" with her dad after the incident, Owens went on to ask about her childhood with him.
He asked Polly about Sanderson's divorces and about his relationship with her sister Jenny, who backed out of testifying for Terry, Owens said. When asked, Polly disagreed that her dad was verbally abusive toward Jenny prior to the accident, and she said he "could have done better" with her mother, his ex-wife, but would not characterize him as abusive.
Owens also brought up an alleged incident when he said Terry punched a man he thought his wife was having an affair with. After Polly said she'd never heard that claim before, the court took a break for lunch.
When the proceedings resumed, Owens apologized to Polly before continuing with the cross examination. "I need to apologize. I was being an ass earlier. It was wrong for me to triangulate you, your dad and your sister and your mom, and I ask for your forgiveness," he said.
Owens then asked if Polly loves her parents and sisters, to which she said "true" and "absolutely" before moving on with the proceedings.
Paltrow thought the collision was a 'practical joke' or something 'perverted' at first
When Paltrow took the stand on March 24 (day four of the trial), she told Sanderson's attorney, Kristin VanOrman, that she initially thought the collision was a "practical joke" when the two skis allegedly went between hers as she felt the body crash behind her.
"I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart and then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise," Paltrow told the courtroom.
"My brain was trying to make sense of what is happening," she said of the interaction. "I thought is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? My mind was going very, very quickly and my mind was trying to ascertain what happened."
At first, she thought the interaction was something "perverted," though emphasized that it wasn't a sexual assault when asked by the plaintiff's attorney. "I'm not saying that [it was sexual assault]. I'm just saying what went through my mind for a split second when it was happening."
Related:Man Suing Gwyneth Paltrow Explains Why He Emailed Daughters 'I'm Famous' After 2016 Ski Crash with Actress
Paltrow says she went for a massage after the skiing collision
Also on day four of the trial, Paltrow was presented with screenshots of a text interaction she had with her son Moses after the collision. The actress was asked to read the messages out loud, mentioning that she alerted Moses that she was going to get a massage.
"I came in. That guy sort of hurt me. I'm going to get a massage at 3," Paltrow read of the text sent at 2:29 M.T, noting that she came in early because she had been hit. She also mentioned that Moses was with their family's babysitter, Gigi, at the time.
Sanderson explains the email he sent with the subject line, "I'm famous..."
When Sanderson took the stand on day five of the trial, he explained the reasoning behind his decision to write "I'm famous" in the subject line to his daughters sent after the incident. He said during testimony that his head was "scrambled" in the hours following the collision with Paltrow.
"Again, my head was scrambled, [but] all I was trying to do was desperately communicate with my kids before they heard from somebody else [that] I got crushed," Sanderson told the jury of the email's subject line.
"I didn't pick my words well, not at all how I felt, and I was really trying to add a little levity to a serious situation and it backfired," he added.
Sanderson also mentioned that he's the owner of a GoPro, but "did not have it on that day" to record the collision with Paltrow. "I would have loved to have it. It was what we needed," he said.
Sanderson gets emotional recounting the collision scene before "everything was black"
Sanderson got choked up describing the moments prior to the crash. "This is hard because I don't like going through this scene," he said with emotion in his voice.
While also on stand, Sanderson recalled the collision in detail, describing the interaction he had with Paltrow and the alleged physical effects his body felt afterwards. "I've never been hit that hard and I'm flying... Last thing I remember, everything was black," he began.
"I just remember everything was great and then I heard something I've never heard at a ski resort, and that was a blood-curdling scream," continued Sanderson before adding, "And then boom!" He went on: "It was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die. That's what I heard until I was hit."
Sanderson claimed he got hit in his back "so hard," describing the feeling like "fists and the poles" were "at the bottom of [his] shoulder blades." He said the collision was a "serious, serious smack."
"I've never been hit that hard and I'm flying... Last thing I remember, everything was black," he added.
Related:Gwyneth Paltrow's Kids Apple and Moses Have Depositions Read Aloud in Court Rather Than Testify
Apple Martin recalls mom Gwyneth in 'state of shock' after 2016 ski collision
Depositions from Paltrow's children, daughter Apple (11 at the time of the crash) and son Moses (9 at the time of the crash), were read aloud verbatim in court by lawyers on day six of the trial. Although her kids were "ready, willing and able" to testify, attorney Stephen Owens allowed the portions read to be admitted into evidence due to a time crunch and scheduling conflicts.
When lawyers read Apple's deposition aloud, it was noted that she "did not see" the collision happen — like Moses — but heard a woman's scream behind her. Apple also shared what Paltrow said to her when they rejoined each other after the collision.
At lunch, "My mom told me. She was very— she told us what happened. ... I noticed she looked a bit shocked, and I asked what had happened, and she said, 'This A-hole ran into me. He ran right into my back.' And I remember she did this motion saying he ran into her back and they both went down. I remember that's what she said."
"She was in a state of shock," said Apple. "She decided after that she was not going to ski for the rest of the day, which she never does; she always stays on. But she decided to get off because she was in shock and she was in a bit of pain. ... I never see her really shaken up like that. She was very clearly visibly upset, and she had some sort of pain."
Sanderson apologizes for describing Gwyneth as "King Kong"
Paltrow's lawyer Owens asked Sanderson about previously telling reporters that the Oscar winner was like "King Kong" when she allegedly crashed into him — and Sanderson admitted he misspoke at the time.
Back in January 2019, when Sanderson first brought a lawsuit against Paltrow, he said during a press conference that he "heard this just hysterical screaming like … King Kong in the jungle or something."
"Did you ... compare my client to 'King Kong coming out of the jungle,' yes or no?" asked Owens on Wednesday. Sanderson said, "That was not my intention. ... I'm not sure. Probably. Sounds familiar. I dispute my intentions, that's all. ... I meant to say King Kong just chased somebody out of the jungle. That's what I meant."
Then, his attorney VanOrman asked Sanderson to clarify what he meant by his past "King Kong" comment. He said, turning to the actress in the courtroom, "My apologies to Ms. Paltrow, because my intention was, got twisted up in my intentions, was to say it sounded like a lady getting chased by King Kong out of the jungle. It was that kind of 'I'm really scared' [noise]."
He added that it was the "very best hysterical scream you've ever heard."
Related:What Gwyneth Paltrow Whispered in Terry Sanderson's Ear After Utah Ski Trial Verdict
Paltrow whispers in Sanderson's ear after the trial verdict is announced
After the Academy Award winner was found not liable in the lawsuit brought against her by Sanderson, she could be seen whispering something to him in footage of her leaving the Park City, Utah, courtroom.
"I wish you well," Sanderson recounted her saying as he talked to reporters outside, according to the Associated Press, noting that he responded: "Thank you, dear."
He told Extra that Paltrow's words were "very kind of her," although when asked if he thought she was lying, Sanderson said: "I believe she thinks she has the truth… but I absolutely know I said I would not bring any falsehoods."
Paltrow says she is "pleased with the outcome" after trial verdict is announced
A jury found that Sanderson was "100 percent" at fault in the collision that happened Feb. 26, 2016, at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. The two-week trial ended with less than three hours of deliberations, and Paltrow was awarded $1 in damages plus legal fees.
The Oscar winner says in a statement shared on her Instagram Story, "I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity." She continued, "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."
Her attorney Owens added in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, "We are pleased with this unanimous outcome and appreciate the judge and jury's thoughtful handling of the case. 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."
Sanderson's attorney C. Peter Sorensen said in a statement, "We are disappointed in the outcome, but we love and support the legal process. We thank Judge Holmberg, the jury and staff for all their efforts. We will spend the next while evaluating and discussing where we go from here."
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