Gwyneth Paltrow was found not at fault by an eight-person Park City jury on Thursday.
The jury sided with Paltrow and found her not at fault for the 2016 ski collision with retired doctor Terry Sanderson at Deer Valley ski resort.
Sanderson owes Paltrow $1 in damages, per KSL.
Why was Gwyneth Paltrow on trial?
In 2016, the Academy Award winning actress was involved in a collision with Sanderson, a retired optometrist, on a ski slope at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
Paltrow and Sanderson both claimed the other is at fault for the incident. Sanderson was suing Paltrow for $300,000 in damages. Paltrow countersued for $1.
The lawsuit was messy, emotional and sometimes even humorous. Here is a timeline of the trial.
2016: The ski accident at Deer Valley Resort
Feb. 26, 2016: Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and retired doctor Terry Sanderson collide on a beginner (green) ski run at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
Sanderson’s claim: Sanderson claims he was skiing ahead of Paltrow — giving him the right of way — when he heard her scream “like King Kong” and ski into his back. According to court documents obtained by CNN in 2019, Paltrow allegedly “skied out of control … knocking him down hard.”
- According to his attorney, Sanderson was left “facedown in the snow, unconscious,” and Paltrow allegedly bolted down the mountain without attending to him, per The Washington Post.
- “I remember feeling sore, my ribs were really sore. And my brain felt like it had been injected with Novocaine, I don’t know how else to describe it. It was just numb. Nothing was making sense,” Sanderson recalled, per the Deseret News.
- Later, Sanderson went to the emergency room. He obtained a concussion and four broken ribs from the collision.
Paltrow’s claim: According to Paltrow, she was watching her children make their way down the bunny slope when Sanderson “skied directly into” her back.
- Paltrow claims both her and Sanderson fell to the ground after the collision — she admits to losing her temper and yelling at Sanderson, shouting that he skied into her. “I pushed down the hill and I turned around and yelled at him … I said, ‘You skied directly into my ... back,’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” Paltrow claimed, per The Washington Post.
- After the collision, Paltrow allegedly fled the scene without asking Sanderson if he was OK. She explained this was because “he had hit me and I was very upset,” per the Deseret News.
- The ski instructor Paltrow hired, Eric Christiansen, remained at the scene to help Sanderson. Paltrow said that, as a representative for Deer Valley Resort, Christiansen gave Paltrow permission to join her young daughter at the bottom of the slope, per the Deseret News.
- Shortly after the collision, Paltrow said she experienced pain in her knee and back. She sent a text message to her ski instructor that she had stopped skiing: “That guy sort of hurt me! I’m goin to get a massage,” Paltrow wrote in a text, per the Deseret News.
Sanderson allegedly reached out to Paltrow: During the years following the incident, Sanderson claims he reached out to Paltrow’s people multiple times seeking a settlement but Paltrow’s lawyers never offered him anything, per the Deseret News.
- “He demanded Ms. Paltrow pay him millions. If she did not pay, she would face negative publicity resulting from his allegations,” Paltrow’s attorneys wrote in a 2019 court filing, per The Associated Press.
2019: Terry Sanderson files lawsuit against Gwyneth Paltrow
- Sanderson sues Paltrow for “hit-and-run” ski crash: Roughly three years after the alleged ski incident, Sanderson filed a lawsuit against Paltrow. Sanderson was initially seeking $3.1 million in damages — he claimed the collision left him with a brain injury and four broken ribs.
- “Gwyneth Paltrow knew it was wrong to ski out of control too fast for her ability … but she did it anyway,” the lawsuit states, per the Deseret News.
- “I’ve skied for over 30 years, I’ve never knocked anybody down and hurt ’em. I’ve never been knocked down or got hurt. I think this is kind of a unique situation and especially when it was unkind to leave me there,” Sanderson said in 2019, per the Deseret News.
- “There was a point in this whole thing, many times, I thought that (an apology) would be sufficient,” Sanderson said in 2019, per the Deseret News. “I’m a proud person and I don’t like to be told I’m not telling the truth and that she now is telling my truth.”
Paltrow’s spokesperson reacts: In 2019, Heather Wilson, a representative for Paltrow, told ABC News, “This lawsuit is completely without merit. Anyone who reads the facts will realize that.”
Paltrow files countersuit: Paltrow filed her own countersuit roughly a month after Sanderson in 2019 — she detailed her own version of the event and blamed Sanderson for the collision, per NPR.
- According to Paltrow’s countersuit, Sanderson “plowed” into her back, delivering a “full ‘body blow,’” per ABC News.
- “Ms. Paltrow was angry with Plaintiff, and said so. Plaintiff apologized. She was shaken and upset, and quit skiing for the day even though it was still morning,” said the countersuit.
- Paltrow said her injuries were minor and she is only seeking “symbolic damages” of $1 in addition to the cost of lawyer fees to defend herself from Sanderson’s “meritless claim,” per ABC News.
2022: Case dismissed by Utah judge
Utah judge rules on case — not a “hit-and-run ski crash”: Upon hearing arguments from Paltrow’s attorneys, Third District Judge Kent Holmberg dismissed parts of the lawsuit and ruled that the ski collision was not a “hit-and-run ski crash,” reported KSL.
- Holmberg dismissed claims that Paltrow negligently inflicted emotional distress on Sanderson. According to Sanderson, the collision left him occasionally having “feelings of being unable to cope with life.”
- The 2022 court order said Paltrow’s actions after the ski collision were reasonable — evidence shows that Paltrow remained at the scene for a sensible amount of time and she believed leaving would not lead to further injury or emotional trauma, according to KSL.
- “No one with knowledge of Ms. Paltrow’s post-collision actions claims to have observed Paltrow acting recklessly. Even when interpreted in the light most favorable to (Sanderson), the undisputed facts fail to support his claim that Paltrow’s post-collision actions were likely to result in substantial harm,” the order stated, per KSL.
- Sanderson reduced damages to $300,000, claiming Paltrow negligently caused injury.
2023: Trial begins in Park City, Utah
Trial begins March 21: Seven years after the Deer Valley ski collision, Paltrow and Sanderson reported to a court room in Park City with opening arguments for the first day of the trial.
Sanderson’s opening statements: Lawrence Buhler, Sanderson’s attorney, highlighted his client’s military service and detailed Sanderson’s injuries following the collision — four broken ribs and brain trauma, reports The Associated Press.
- “Distracted skiers cause crashes. Defendant Gwyneth Paltrow knew that looking up the mountain and to the side while skiing down the mountain was dangerous,” Buhler began his opening arguments, according to NPR.
- Sanderson allegedly has had serious issues since the collision and “his ability to cope with life is diminished,” explained Buhler, adding that the value of damages caused by the incident is $3.276 million, per the Deseret News.
- Buhler went on to describe Paltrow as a wealthy, experienced skier with a “so what?” attitude towards the collision, per the AP.
Paltrow’s opening statements: “There are inherent risks of skiing,” said Paltrow’s attorney, Stephen Owens, who believes the jury will find no one is at fault. “Skiing is dangerous and collisions happen.”
- Paltrow was described by Owens as a “conservative skier” who was “taken out from behind” after Sanderson’s skis came between hers and brought them both down, per Deseret News.
- Owens suggested that Sanderson’s health issues stem from aging. “He’s aging, he has prior problems, and he’s now obsessed, essentially, with this lawsuit,” said Owens, per The Washington Post.
- “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,” Owens continued.
The only eyewitness
Craig Ramon, eyewitness: The only person to witness the collision is Craig Ramon, an acquaintance of Sanderson — he was skiing in a group with Sanderson and a few others. Ramon was the first witness called to the stand.
- Ramon said he was roughly 30 to 40 feet away from the collision. He recalled hearing a scream and seeing a skier slam into Sanderson’s back, per Deseret News.
- Following the collision, Sanderson was face-down in the snow and and unresponsive for a couple of minutes, according to Ramon. He did not speak to Paltrow but he remembers her getting up off the ground.
- Ramon described Paltrow’s ski instructor, Christiansen, as “very hostile” and that he kept yelling: “What did you do?” reports Deseret News.
- Sanderson used to be an “advanced expert” skier, according to Ramon, but admitted that in 2016 Sanderson “just didn’t have it” on the slopes anymore and that “he wasn’t the same skier as he was the previous year,” per Deseret News.
Gwyneth Paltrow takes the stand
March 24: Paltrow testified that Sanderson smashed into her on the slopes — the incident left her confused and angry.
- “Mr. Sanderson skied directly into my back,” Paltrow said from the witness stand, per The Washington Post. “I froze and got upset a couple seconds later.”
- Paltrow recalled feeling confused when she felt a body pressed against her. “I was confused at first and didn’t know exactly what was happening,” she explained, per The Washington Post. “I thought, ‘Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really, really strange.’ My mind was going very, very quickly and I was trying to ascertain what was happening.”
- Contrary to the testimony of Ramon, Paltrow claimed she did not scream when she was hit. Paltrow testified that they both toppled to the ground, and their skis were entangled.
- “I remember pushing away because I was very upset,” Paltrow said, per The Washington Post. “I pushed down the hill and I turned around and yelled at him ... I said, ‘You skied directly into my effing back,’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’”
- Paltrow apologized to the lawyer for her “bad language.”
Sanderson’s personality changed after the collision
Sanderson’s daughter testifies: Polly Sanderson Grasham testified that her father became an “angry person” following the 2016 ski collision — and denied claims that he was verbally abusive prior to the collision, per the New York Post.
- Sanderson Grasham described her dad as “fun-loving, very gregarious, definitely an extrovert” before the collision, reports the New York Post.
- “Writing this wrong for him has really kind of consumed him. He wanted to make it right,” Sanderson Grasham told the jury, per the New York Post.
Terry Sanderson takes the stand
March 27: Sanderson gave a tearful testimony, claiming, “I’m like living another life now.” His legal team said he can no longer ski and suffers from memory lapses, reports CBS News.
- “I got hit in my back so hard, and right at my shoulder blades,” Sanderson recalled of the collision, per CBS News. “It felt like it was perfectly centered, the fists and the poles were right there, at my shoulder blades. Serious, serious smack. I’ve never been hit that hard.”
The ‘I’m famous’ email from Sanderson
Sanderson questioned about GoPro footage: Paltrow’s attorney asked Sanderson about an email he sent his daughters after the crash in which he said “I’m famous” after colliding with Paltrow. He added, “I also can’t believe this is all on GoPro” in the same email. The GoPro footage did not make it as evidence in the trial, per CBS News.
“Do you recall saying that you agree that saying ‘I’m famous’ was a crazy thing to say?” Stephen Owens, Paltrow’s attorney, asked Sanderson, per the Daily Beast.
“Absolutely, it’s not me,” Sanderson responded. “I don’t buy into that.”
“But it was you, right? When you say ‘it wasn’t me,’ it was, in fact, you,” Owens questioned.
“It’s the other personality that’s inhabiting my body right now,” Sanderson said.
“And you blame Gwyneth Paltrow for that?” asked Owens.
“Yes,” Sanderson replied.
Depositions from Gwyneth Paltrow’s children
Depositions from Paltrow’s two children: Apple and Moses Martin — Paltrow’s children — were on the ski slopes with Paltrow the day of the collision. Neither of them saw the crash.
- Moses Martin, who was 9 years old at the time of the collision, said he “did not see the actual collision happen” but he recalled seeing his “mother and a person behind her who had crashed” on the ground, per Good Morning America.
- Paltrow’s son also noted hearing his mother yell “something along the lines of ‘What the F-word, you just ran into me.’”
- Apple Martin said she was at the bottom of the ski run when the collision happened. She recalls hearing a women scream but “it wasn’t very clear,” per Good Morning America.
- During lunch at the lodge that day Apple Martin claimed her mom mentioned someone ran into her, saying “ran right into my back.”
- “She was very clearly visibly upset and she was in a little bit of pain,” Apple Martin added.
Terry Sanderson: “Terry went out for a fun day of skiing. He never came back that night as the same person” said Sanderson’s attorney Robert Sykes, per the BBC.
- In his closing statement, Sanderson’s attorney said Paltrow was “a good person” and “not a liar” but that her version of the story does not hold up.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Paltrow’s defense team argued that she has been “pounded like a punching bag” by a man who “likes to be in the spotlight,” per the BBC.
- “He hit her, he hurt her and he’s not entitled to sue her,” said Paltrow’s attorney Steve Owens.
- James Egan, another member of Paltrow’s defense team, claimed it was hard for Sanderson “to accept the decline he is experiencing” and had “grabbed on to the collision to explain it.”
The Verdict: The jury found Gwyneth Paltrow not at fault for the 2016 ski collision with Terry Sanderson at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, per KSL.
- The eight-person jury found Sanderson 100% at fault for the 2016 collision.
- Sanderson owes Paltrow $1 in damages, the amount Paltrow requested in her countersuit.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that Paltrow was found “not guilty.” She was found “not at fault.”