HUGE LEGAL NEWS! Paltrow Wins $1 in Ski-Crash Trial

The search for a defendant begins (image: reid.neuriter via flickr, CC 2.0 cropped)

Yesterday was obviously a huge and unprecedented day in the U.S. legal world because, as you have all certainly heard by now, Gwyneth Paltrow prevailed in her epic battle against Terry Sanderson. Sanderson, a retired optometrist, blamed Paltrow, an actor who is not retired, for injuries he allegedly suffered in a 2016 ski accident at Deer Valley Resort in Utah. Sanderson claimed Paltrow crashed into him on the ski slope, but Paltrow claimed it was the other way around. The jury sided with Paltrow.

According to Sanderson, Paltrow’s reckless skiing caused a collision that left him with four broken ribs, a concussion, and lasting brain damage. That seems like more damage than even a speeding Paltrow would be likely to cause, unless she skis in the Rescue armor she wore in Avengers: Endgame and that armor is actually real. But I suppose those injuries aren’t impossible under less fictional circumstances.

In his testimony, Sanderson claimed he heard Paltrow let out a “blood-curdling scream” just before the impact, the kind of scream he believed someone “out of control” and about to hit a tree (or, presumably, an optometrist) might emit. (CNN for some reason edited out Sanderson’s effort to reproduce the alleged scream for the jury, an effort that was less than successful.) He did have one witness who supported his claims, but that person’s story seems to have changed over time.

Paltrow told a very different story. According to her, she was skiing calmly when she saw a pair of ski tips come up from behind and between her skis, forcing them apart. The body on top of the skis then pressed up against her from behind, accompanied by what she called a “very strange grunting noise.” There does seem to have been a collision of some kind, so this may have happened more quickly than I just described it. (A ski instructor filed a report saying that a male skier caused the crash.) Paltrow was not injured, other than allegedly being creeped out by the grunting. But she countersued, saying she did not want to “acquiesc[e] to a false claim.”

Yesterday, after deliberating for not very long, the jurors found in Paltrow’s favor, saying they believed Sanderson was “100 percent” at fault. They awarded her the $1 she had demanded.

As she left the courtroom, Paltrow could be seen leaning over and saying something to Sanderson, who was still seated at the defense table. (She also touched him lightly on the back while doing this, which technically is battery. I’m just saying.) Based on my limited lip-reading skills, she said something like, “You will regret crossing me, worm. Your world will burn. I shall release my minions upon you; they do not know pain, they do not know fear; they will taste man-flesh!” According to Sanderson, she actually said “I wish you well.” Whatever the truth may be, this was certainly a dramatic development in an unprecedented legal battle that has been gripping the country for some time, causing shock waves that will continue to reverberate.

Oh, also a guy who was president for a while was indicted.

In 1999, Paltrow won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Shakespeare in Love,” in which her character murders an optometrist.