Closing arguments get emotional in Gwyneth Paltrow trial
Gwyneth Paltrow, founder and CEO of lifestyle brand GOOP and “Sliding Doors” actress, is being sued in a Utah court by a retired optometrist over a 2016 skiing accident at Deer Valley Resort. Paltrow is also suing Terry Sanderson over the incident in a lawsuit that ended Thursday in Park City’s Third Circuit Court.
The closing arguments went all the way.
Aside from rehashing key pieces of evidence and testimony, Paltrow’s lead attorney Stephen Owens said his client lost valuable bonding time with the components of what would eventually become their new family. Sanderson’s attorneys said he lost quite a bit more.
“February 26, 2016, like many, many other days in his life, was anticipating a fun day of skiing,” plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Robert Sykes, said during closing arguments. “He never returned home that night as the same Terry. He never came home – figuratively speaking. Terry tried to get off that mountain – but he really is still there. A part of Terry will forever be on the Bandana Run – figuratively speaking.”
“We hope you will help bring Terry home from that mountain today with a fair judgment,” Sykes later added in a direct plea to the jury.
Counsel for Paltrow Vice Chairman James Egan closed the defendant’s conclusion by repeating the plaintiff’s own mountain theme.
“Mr. Sanderson is seeking compensation for a ski injury that evidence shows he caused it himself,” argued Egan. “And the evidence also shows that his life is not the chaos he makes it out to be. Ms. Paltrow wants him off the mountain too, but she shouldn’t be responsible for the cost of it.”
In the rebuttal, Sanderson’s attorney Robert Sorensen flipped the use of the mountain theme back to Paltrow’s side — in a rare attempt to portray the Hollywood actress as callous and outspoken, saying the plaintiff warned the jury from the beginning of the trial that the defendant would become a lot of “So what?” on the table instead of evidence.
“That’s what they say about Terry Sanderson’s injuries,” Sorensen argued – sharply rephrasing the defense’s arguments. “‘So what? He was injured before. His injuries are showing through. So what? We’re so sorry he was left on the mountain – we’d like to have him off. So what?”‘
Sorensen also said it’s hard to sue a celebrity – which led to an objection from Owens. “I don’t want her to be lumped together with other celebrities,” the lawyer said – after being overruled.
The Utah doctor filed his lawsuit against the actress and several others in January 2019, alleging their actions were negligent and resulted in “permanent traumatic brain injuries, 4 fractured ribs, pain, suffering, loss of zest for life, emotional distress and disfigurement.” guided. Paltrow sued Sanderson in February 2019, claiming he was the culprit. Both Sanderson and Paltrow claim the opposing party rammed the other person from behind.
The deadlines were met more or less strictly – Judge Kent Holmberg allotted a set number of hours to each side and counted them against the time before the jury. However, the case has seen a significant number of objections, sidebars and cut-outs. Both sides frequently asked the court to consider matters outside of the jury.
More Law & Crime Coverage: Trial Judge Gwyneth Paltrow dismisses calls for a directed verdict just before closing arguments begin
Ultimately, the case ended up in the hands of the jury. The question was whether one person was entitled to the other person’s money – or whether either person was entitled.
Michael Jaafar, a personal injury attorney who practices in multiple jurisdictions, said the Oscar-winner did herself a disservice when she took a stand late last week.
“She was terrible on this one. At one point, the plaintiff’s attorney asked her what the trial had done to adversely affect her life, and her response was ‘an afternoon skiing,'” he said, paraphrasing the testimony in the case. “You don’t have to be an expert on jury decisions to know what that’s going to do to her. But it won’t be a good element.”
During her testimony, Paltrow said, “Well, I lost half a day of skiing,” a line recently highlighted by outdoor culture magazine Mountain Gazette in a collection of merchandise mocking the trial.
Jaafar leaned into that line of thought, even calling the actress the most compelling witness — but for the worst (for her side).
“She won an Oscar, but she put on a shameful show with her testimony,” he said. “She helped the plaintiff a lot.”
Of course, the woman who is perhaps most famous these days for playing Pepper Potts can still win before a Beehive State jury, long before a trial even begins, because of Sanderson’s activities.
“The idiotic plaintiff sent his daughter a message that he was ‘going to be famous’ for being hit by Paltrow,” Jaafar said, paraphrasing an email that was admitted into evidence and shown to the jury throughout the trial and mentioned repeatedly became. “It will make him look like a celebrity.”
More Law & Crime Reporting: The skiing accident trial against Gwyneth Paltrow is likely to be anything but easy, say legal experts
Jaafar told Law&Crime that the best Sanderson could fight was “a ton of highly paid experts who cobbled together the best possible re-enactment of the incident that money can buy.”
Known as “Big Case Mike,” the law firm owner praised the lawyers’ work for both sides, but said their clients were far from ideal.
“These guys are perceptive and did their best with terrible facts,” he told Law&Crime. “The plaintiff’s attorney had an inexperienced client who harmed his case with pre-trial testimony. And the defense had Paltrow, who clearly wasn’t flexible enough to be a good witness.
The jury began deliberations at around 1:45 p.m. MT before returning a few hours later to a verdict that found Paltrow not at fault in the crash and Sanderson was 100% at fault.
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/live-trials/gwyneth-paltrow-ski-crash-trial-ends-with-emotional-closing-arguments-and-defense-attorney-complaining-about-actress-being-lumped-in-with-other-celebrities/ Closing arguments get emotional in Gwyneth Paltrow trial