A jury ruled Thursday that actress Gwyneth Paltrow is not liable for an accident on a swanky U.S. ski slope, as it dismissed a $3.3 million damages claim from a retired optometrist.
Terry Sanderson, 76, had alleged a collision with the star in Utah left him with four broken ribs and lasting psychological damage, and had sued for compensation.
Paltrow countersued for a symbolic $1.
After an eight-day civil trial, a jury in Park City unanimously found the “Shakespeare in Love” actress did not cause the crash in 2016.
The Oscar-winner was in court every day of the trial, listening attentively to evidence, including Sanderson’s claims that she had hit him so hard in the back that he went 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 until his death, which he said 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.”
Paltrow’s defence 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.
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.
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.”
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