Actress Gwyneth Paltrow acquitted in skiing accident trial

PARK CITY, Utah — Gwyneth Paltrow won her court battle over a 2016 skiing accident at a ritzy Utah ski resort after a jury ruled Thursday that the movie star was not responsible for the crash.

A jury dismissed the complaint of a retired optometrist, who was suing Paltrow for injuries he sustained when the two fell during a beginner’s run at Deer Valley ski resort, and sided with Paltrow after eight days of live-streamed testimony in the courtroom posed, making the case a pop culture fixation.

Paltrow, an actress-turned-celebrity wellness entrepreneur in recent years, smirked at her attorneys as the judge read the verdict of the eight-member jury in the Park City courtroom. She sat two weeks of testimony in the biggest celebrity court case since actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard fell out last year.

The dismissal concludes a two-week court case that focused primarily on reputation rather than the financial damage that the case is about. Paltrow’s attorneys called the complaint against her “utter bullshit” and called the Goop founder and CEO uniquely prone to unfair, frivolous lawsuits because of her celebrity.

Paltrow took the witness stand during the trial to insist the collision wasn’t her fault and to describe how she was stunned when she felt “a body squeeze and a very strange grunt.”

Throughout the trial, the word “uphill” became synonymous with “guilty” as attorneys focused on a largely unknown skier code of conduct that dictates that the skier who is downhill or ahead on the slope has the right-of-way.

Global audiences watched the celebrity trial as if it were episodic television. Viewers examined Paltrow and Sanderson’s motives, while attorneys directed questions at witnesses, who often had less to do with the collision and more to do with their client’s reputation.

The trial took place in Park City, a resort town known for the annual Sundance Film Festival, where Paltrow performed early in her career for the premieres of her films, including 1998’s “Sliding Doors,” at a time when she was primarily known as was an actor, not a lifestyle influencer. Paltrow is also known for her roles in Shakespeare in Love and the Iron Man films.

The jury’s decision spells a painful court defeat for Terry Sanderson, the man who is suing Paltrow for more than $300,000 for injuries sustained in a fall on a rookie run. Both parties blamed the other for the clash. Sanderson, 76, fractured four ribs and suffered a concussion after the two fell down the slope and Paltrow landed on top of him.

He filed an amended lawsuit after an earlier $3.1 million lawsuit was dismissed. Paltrow then counter-sued for $1 and attorneys’ fees, a token action mirroring Taylor Swift’s response to a radio host’s defamation lawsuit. Swift was awarded $1 in 2017.

Paltrow’s defense team attempted to portray Sanderson as an angry, aging, and unsympathetic man who had become “obsessed” with his lawsuit against Paltrow over the years. They argued that Paltrow was not at fault in the accident and also said that Sanderson exaggerated the extent of his injuries, regardless of fault.

AP writer Anna Furman contributed from Los Angeles.

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