Internationally-acclaimed actress Gwyneth Paltrow was not at fault in a 2016 ski crash on Bandana Run, the beginner’s slope at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, a jury found late Thursday.
“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity,” Paltrow said in a statement following the verdict. “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.”
The “Shallow Hal” actress, 50, was sued by retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, who claimed that the accident left him with permanent brain damage and various other maladies. Some of those injuries, like four broken ribs, were not contested by Paltrow’s defense team.
The actress hotly disputed who caused the crash in the first place. She claimed Sanderson skied directly into her back that cold February day and cost her a “half a day of skiing” and time with her family.
Sanderson requested some $3.27 million dollars in non-economic damages for loss of enjoyment; Paltrow requested one dollar and attorneys’ fees. The issue of attorneys’ fees will be dealt with by the court in a later hearing and was not up for jurors to decide.
During the nearly-two-week-long trial, jurors heard from an eyewitness to the crash who claimed Paltrow was at fault. A ski instructor working for Paltrow’s family that day who admittedly did not see the crash – and who was named a defendant in the original lawsuit – put the blame on Sanderson. Various medical experts testified about the plaintiff’s physical and mental health before and after the crash. Jurors also patiently sat through hours of physics equations about force and velocity by experts with dueling maths.
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Both Paltrow and Sanderson took the stand as well.
After two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation, at least six jurors agreed with the actress’ version of events.
The verdict was a clean sweep for Paltrow and she won her requested one dollar in damages.
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Before jurors were sent off to decide whose money, if anyone’s, should go to who, if anyone, Third District Court Judge Kent Holmberg explained that their verdicts did not need to be unanimous.
There only needed to be six out of eight jurors agreeing on each question, the judge noted. Each of the many questions on the jury instructions could have been answered by a different set of six jurors.
The judge also instructed jurors on how fault is determined in a civil case in the Beehive State.
“If you decide that more than one person is at fault, you must decide each person’s percentage of fault that caused the harm you determined was suffered in this case,” Holmberg explained. “This allocation must total 100 percent. Mr. Sanderson’s total recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you attribute to him. If you decide that this percentage is 50 percent or greater, he will recover nothing. The same is true of Ms. Paltrow’s recovery.”
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