By Kendall McElroy
Deer Valley Resort, located in Park City, Utah, is typically known for its World Cup ski races, the Sundance Film Festival, or the 2002 Winter Olympics. In 2016, however, a lesser known incident occurred on Deer Valley’s slopes and has brought back to light. Terry Sandersn, 76, sued Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow for $300,000 in injuries for allegedly rear ending him on a bunny slope and leaving him with four broken ribs, a concussion, and a brain injury. In response, Paltrow countersued for $1 million, not including lawyer fees.
Typically, ski and run incidents are cut and dry and have never previously made national headlines. Yet with a major celebrity attached to the case, outsiders were drawn into the trial’s constant livestream. According to Utah law, the skier going downhill has the right of way, which both parties claimed they were. The jury was given a tough job navigating the “he said, she said” argument. However, there were a few key details that tipped the jury in Paltrow’s favor.
Firstly, Dr. Irving Scher, who was called to testify on Paltrow’s behalf. Dr. Scher, who specifically studied snow physics, used a scientific approach to explain that Sanderson was at fault.
The second fact that worked to paint Sanderson in a negative light was the various social media posts that were made after the accident. The multiple images of him traveling and acting jovially did not reflect the crippled and traumatized person he depicted to the courtroom.
Paltrow was awarded the finances she had asked for, that being $1. An effort to symbolize that it was never about the money, reassuring her choice to fight her cause in court instead of settling. After the verdict was read, Paltrow was seen outside the courthouse greeting Sanderson and telling him, “I wish you well,” to which he responded, “Thank you dear.” In a statement read outside the courthouse, by Paltrow’s attorney, Steve Owens, “Gwyneth has a history of advocating for what she believes in – this situation was no different and she will continue to stand up for what is right.”