Gwyneth Paltrow found not guilty in ski accident case

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Eileen Kaeser, Contributor

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and Goop CEO was declared not guilty after being accused of colliding with Terry Sanderson in a 2016 skiing accident in Park City, Utah. The allegation raised by Sanderson named Gwyneth responsible for the collision but after bringing the issue to trial it was ultimately decided that Sanderson was liable for the crash. According to NBC News, Sanderson pressed charges after the collision resulted in injuries including brain trauma and broken ribs. Sanderson was suing for $300,000. 

The jury’s decision came after a nine day legal battle, as stated by Court TV. The claim that Sanderson was attempting to extort Paltrow because she is famous was raised by Paltrow’s attorneys. According to NBC News, Paltrow’s team filed a counterclaim that Sanderson was at fault, as he was coming down the slope behind her. Paltrow gave a very detailed testimony of the moment, saying, “Mr Sanderson skied directly into my back.” She testified, “I was skiing and two skis came between my skis forcing my legs apart, and then there was a body pressing against me.” NBC stated that the jury’s decision was “ultimately hinging on which party’s jurors believed was higher on the slopes when the crash occurred.” Paltrow was below Sanderson, therefore she was cleared of all charges. 

Craige Ramon was named as a witness to the collision, but Paltrow stressed the fact that not only did Ramon change his story, but he was also watching from “40+ feet away.” She also mentioned that discerning the identities of the skiers as they crashed would have been difficult, as they were “two people in ski gear with helmets on.” The extent of Sanderson’s injuries have also been called into question. Paltrow’s attorney referenced a brain test Sanderson took following the crash that he “passed with flying colors.” 

Paltrow gained $1.00 in her winnings, a move similar to a 2017 Taylor Swift Sexual Assault Case brought forward by Swift when she sued David Mueller for $1.00. Sanderson’s lawyer, Kristin VanOrman attempted to connect the two cases during her cross examination of Paltrow, asking if she “learned about that through Taylor Swift.” Gwyneth denied any connection, responding, “I think I said at that point I had not been familiar with it, but I since am.” Van Orman also questioned whether or not she and Swift are close friends, to which Gwyneth responded, “I would not say we’re good friends, we are friendly.” CBS News has reported that the judge may decide that Sanderson is also responsible for paying Gwyneth’s legal fees, a sum that may come out to one million dollars. 

The trial gained traction on the popular social media app TikTok, the most viral video (of Gwyneth’s acquittal) earning 97.7k likes. Both side’s attorneys took the spotlight after commenters picked up on the hijinks within the courtroom. Videos of VanOrman’s cross examination were among the most popular discourse because of her sometimes bizarre questions and comments. In one case she commented on her height compared to Paltrows, saying, “I am so jealous” after Gwyneth stated that she is “just under 5 ’10… The attorney kind of seemed excited to be talking to a celebrity, which was probably very distracting in court.” said a University sophomore. 

Another popular moment comes from a TikTok released by the New York Post, Gwyneth remarked that she “lost half a day of skiing” as a result of the collision, after being prompted by VanOrman who said that the crash “deterred you from enjoying the rest of a very expensive vacation.” The statement has been labeled as out of touch, as multiple commenters have expressed their dissatisfaction over the statement. University sophomore defended Paltrow’s statement saying, “She seemed very soft spoken and down to earth on the stand; maybe the comment about losing a day of skiing wasn’t meant to be pretentious, but it just really came off that way.” 

On the subject of the TikTok coverage of the trial, University freshman majoring in Neuroscience Anastasiia Kirdiianova admitted, “my TikTok focus was on her outfits… She looks gorgeous, but I have heard nothing about the case itself.” Although the trial itself was a topic of interest to her, the circumstances surrounding it were not as prevalent on her For You page. 

Another viral video was Paltrow’s final moments in the courtroom, when she whispered to Sanderson upon exiting the courtroom. Sanderson later revealed at a press conference that Gwyneth said to him “I wish you well.” Kind words after a seven year affair. University junior Sarah Hawthorn said it best when she remarked, “Gwynoccent until proven guilty… which she was not.”