NATIONAL NEWS

Gwyneth Paltrow won her ski case. Here’s how it played out

Mar 29, 2023, 1:58 PM | Updated: Mar 31, 2023, 5:14 am

FILE - Gwyneth Paltrow testifies during her trial on March 24, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow's ...

FILE - Gwyneth Paltrow testifies during her trial on March 24, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow's live-streamed trial over a 2016 collision at a posh Utah ski resort has drawn worldwide attention, spawning memes and sparking debate about the burden and power of celebrity. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool, File)

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — When two skiers collided on a beginner run at an upscale Utah ski resort in 2016, no one could foresee that seven years later, the crash would become the subject of a closely watched celebrity trial.

But ski etiquette rules of who was uphill and who had the right of way relevant beyond those who can afford resort chairlift tickets.

On Thursday, Paltrow won her court battle after a jury decided the movie star wasn’t at fault for the crash. Here is a look back at highlights from the two-week trial:

___

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND THE FAMOUS

For seven days, attorneys highlighted — and downplayed — Paltrow and Sanderson’s extravagant lifestyles.

Sanderson’s attorneys sought more than $300,000 in damages, but the money at stake for both sides paled in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multiyear lawsuit. Both sides marshalled expert witnesses, including a biomechanical engineer and collision expert.

Paltrow’s legal team attempted to represent Sanderson as an angry, aging man who continued to travel internationally after the collision. They introduced photos into evidence of Sanderson camel riding in Morocco, trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and taking a continent-wide loop through Europe with stops in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Belgium.

Sanderson’s attorneys questioned Paltrow about that day’s $8,890 bill for private ski instructors for four children accompanying her, as well as her decision to leave the slope after the crash to get a massage. They said the accident caused Sanderson to grow distant from friends and family, and they called his ex-girlfriend to testify about how their relationship deteriorated because he “had no joy left in his life.”

To keep jurors engaged, Paltrow’s team shared a series of advanced, high-resolution animations to accompany their witnesses’ recollections. The renderings reflected the financial investment Paltrow and her defense team devoted to the case.

___

THE BURDEN OF FAME

Attorneys on both sides tapped into the power of celebrity to make their cases that reputations and moral principles were what was at stake in the trial.

Sanderson’s side tried to characterize Paltrow, the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer, as clumsy, out of touch and evading accountability. They Taylor Swift, who filed a similar counterclaim in a lawsuit in 2017 — drawing attention to Paltrow’s testimony that she was “not good friends” with Swift but just “friendly.”

Paltrow’s defense team called the highly publicized case an attempt to exploit her fame and suggested she is vulnerable to unfair, frivolous lawsuits. They questioned witnesses about Sanderson’s “obsession” with the case and homed in on an email subject line in which Sanderson wrote after the collision: “I’m famous.”

“To become famous, he will lie,” one of Paltrow’s attorneys said. “I’m not into celebrity worship,” Sanderson later rebutted.

___

FACTORY OF MEMES

Though the trial tested the jury’s endurance as its eight members gradually sunk deeper into their chairs through hours of expert-witness testimony, it titillated spectators worldwide, became late-night television fodder and fed the internet’s insatiable appetite for memes.

Viewers tuning into proceedings on CourtTV saw Paltrow complain about losing a half-day of skiing after the crash and heard a radiologist testify that Sanderson could no longer enjoy wine tasting. They compared the spectacle to “The White Lotus” — an HBO series that satirizes the petty grievances of rich, white vacationers — and, in a reflection of the courtroom theatrics and rapt public attention, likened Paltrow’s defense to the Salem witch trials of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

Photographs of Paltrow entering and exiting the courtroom — often shielding her face, perp-walk style, with a blue GP-initialed notebook — also have gone viral on social media.

___

UTAH’S POSHEST SKI TOWN

The proceedings have drawn the world’s attention to Park City, Utah, the silver boomtown-turned posh ski resort where Paltrow and Sanderson crashed and the trial was held. The city annually hosts the Sundance Film Festival, where early in her career Paltrow would appear for the premieres of her movies, including 1998’s “Sliding Doors,” at a time when she was known primarily as an actor, not a celebrity wellness entrepreneur.

The jury and local residents who have braved blizzards to get to the courthouse each day nodded along as attorneys referenced local landmarks like The Montage Deer Valley, the slope-side luxury resort where Paltrow got a massage after the crash.

The all-white jury was drawn from registered voters in Summit County, where the average home sold for $1.3 million last month and residents tend to be less religious than the rest of Utah, where the majority of the population belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Unlike the high-powered Hollywood attorneys that become household names at celebrity trials, both sides were represented by local lawyers. Paltrow’s team specializes in medical malpractice lawsuits, while Sanderson’s lead counsel, Bob Sykes, is known in Salt Lake City for his work suing police departments. Sykes attempted to play up his folksiness, referring to himself as “just a country lawyer” more than six times during the trial. After jurors were sent home Wednesday, both legal teams joked about the trial lawyer gimmick.

___

THE MYSTERIOUS MISSING GOPRO

Paltrow’s attorneys intrigued the jury with questions about the collision potentially being captured on a helmet-cam video, though no footage was included as evidence in the trial.

Sanderson’s daughter testified this week that an email she sent the day of the accident referring to a GoPro didn’t imply footage existed. She said she and her father speculated that on a crowded beginner run, someone wearing a camera must have turned to look at the crash after hearing Paltrow scream.

Internet sleuths following the trial later found and sent attorneys the link included in the email. Rather than revealing GoPro footage though, it contained a chatroom discussion between members of Sanderson’s ski group, including the man claiming to be the sole eyewitness who testified Paltrow crashed into Sanderson.

___

THE VERDICT

Paltrow looked to her attorneys with a pursed-lips smile when the judge read the eight-member jury’s verdict in the Park City courtroom.

The jury awarded her $1; however, the attorney fees she asked for in her countersuit were not included in the verdict, leaving the bulk of the final award for the Park City judge to decide.

Paltrow thanked the judge and jury for their work.

“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity,” the actor said in a statement released by her representatives.

As Paltrow left court, she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and told him, “I wish you well,” Sanderson told reporters outside court. He responded, “Thank you, dear.”

___

Furman reported from Los Angeles.

National News

Associated Press

One dead, seven injured after shooting at Kentucky nightclub

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One person is dead and seven others were injured after a shooting at a Kentucky nightclub early Saturday morning, authorities say. Louisville Metro Police Department officials said they responded to a call of several people shot at the H20 nightclub in Louisville just before 1 a.m. One man, 40-year-old Joseph D. […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Man trying to drown 2 children on Connecticut beach is stopped by officers, police say

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man trying to drown two small children at a Connecticut beach early Saturday morning was thwarted by police officers, according to authorities. An officer spotted an SUV parked on a beach in West Haven at about 2:30 a.m. and heard “significant screaming” from the water as he approached. As […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Helicopters scramble to rescue people in flooded Iowa town while much of US toils again in heat

The governor of Iowa sent helicopters to a small town to evacuate people from flooded homes Saturday, the result of weeks of rain, while much of the United States longed for relief from yet another round of extraordinary heat. Sirens blared at 2 a.m. in Rock Valley, Iowa, population 4,200, where people in hundreds of […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Husband of bride killed in alleged DUI crash on wedding night to receive nearly $1M in settlement

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (AP) — The husband of a bride who was killed in a South Carolina beach road collision on her wedding night last year will receive nearly a million dollars in settlement connected to the crash, which a drunk driver allegedly caused. The Post and Courier reported that Aric Hutchinson will receive about […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

2 men convicted in 2021 armed standoff on Massachusetts highway

BOSTON (AP) — Two men have been convicted for their role in an armed standoff on a busy Massachusetts highway in 2021 that lasted more than eight hours and caused traffic delays during a busy Fourth of July weekend. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced Friday that Jamhal Tavon Sanders Latimer and Steven Anthony Perez […]

5 hours ago

Gwyneth Paltrow won her ski case. Here’s how it played out