Gwyneth Paltrow should not be made to pay ‘ransom’ over ski crash, court told

Jurors were told that Paltrow's view on how events unfolded during the collision were “sincerely expressed” but incorrect. Credit: AP

Gwyneth Paltrow should not be made to pay a “ransom” for a “meritless claim” over a skiing collision seven years ago, a US court has heard.The Oscar-winning actress had shown “courage” by attending court for the two-week trial where she had become a “punching bag”, jurors were told.

Paltrow is accused of “slamming” into retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, leaving him with several broken ribs and severe brain injuries.

She has denied the claims, alleging that Mr Sanderson crashed into her at the Deer Valley resort in Utah in 2016, and caused her to lose “half a day of skiing”.

Closing arguments took place on Thursday, as the high-profile trial drew to a close, with lawyers for Mr Sanderson suggesting he be paid damages of more than US $3 million (£2.4m).

Terry Sanderson claimed he had heard a "blood curdling-scream" before everything went "black" following the crash. Credit: AP

Stephen Owens, representing Paltrow, said the actress had been “uncomfortable” during proceedings.

“It takes a lot of courage does it not?” he told the jury in his own closing argument.

“(Mr Sanderson’s) life has been laid open – that’s because of him. He hit her. He hurt her and he wants three million dollars for it.

“That’s not fair. The easy thing for my client would have been to write a cheque and be done with it – but what does that tell her kids?”

“It’s wrong, it’s actually wrong that he hurt her and he wants money from her.”

Describing Ms Paltrow’s reaction to the crash at the time, Mr Owens said: “Gwyneth is pissed off.

“If you hit someone do you yell at the person you just hit? No. The hittee – is usually the unhappy one.”

He added: “This is a meritless claim.

“You don’t throw a three-million-dollar bombshell in the courtroom, call her (Gwyneth Paltrow) King Kong, and walk away. You shouldn’t reward that.

“Gwyneth, who could have just paid it out, paid the ransom, (said) ‘no I’m not doing that. I’m not going to have someone hurt me and then ask me for a lot of money. I’m not going to do it’.”

Ms Paltrow has counter-sued Mr Sanderson for one dollar.

“We ask you for the dollar not because she had to go in and get an early massage, but because it screwed up a very carefully planned time in her life,” Mr Owens said.

“We want our dollar.”

Robert Sykes, representing Mr Sanderson, was the first to address the court during closing arguments earlier in the day, and told jurors that his client “never came home” from the mountain following the collision.

“Gwyneth Paltrow in this case is not a liar. Terry Sanderson is not a liar,” he said.

“Gwyneth is a good person. She is a good mother and she loves her children and she is passionate about things.

“I think that she believes, and I believe Gwyneth Paltrow when she says ‘Terry hit me in the back’ – it’s a sincere belief but the problem is a sincere belief doesn’t make it so.”

Mr Sykes continued: “So often people that are in these types of events have totally different viewpoints.

“We don’t hold anything against Gwyneth for her viewpoint – it’s sincerely expressed, but she’s wrong based on the evidence. And Terry is correct.

Gwyneth Paltrow enters the courtroom for her trial. Credit: AP

”Fellow skier Craig Ramon, who gave evidence Ms Paltrow had collided with Mr Sanderson, had been the only person who had witnessed the collision and had “no dog in the fight”, the court heard.

“There is an eye witness, Craig Ramon… he saw the whole thing, he saw the impact and he is the only one that saw it,” Mr Sykes said.

“He’s not close to Terry, they went for garlic burgers twice… he has no dog in the fight. He has no reason, no motive to falsify this.”

Mr Sykes said that he had found the evidence of Ms Paltrow’s ski instructor Eric Christiansen to be “unbelievable and inconsistent”, and believed there had been a “cover-up” by the Deer Valley resort over what had happened.

He added: “That day that Terry left his house to go skiing… he anticipated like many other days in his life a fun day of skiing, and he never returned home that night as the same Terry. He never came home, figuratively speaking.

Paltrow appears at the high profile court case. Credit: AP

“Terry has tried to get off that mountain but he’s really still there. Part of Terry will forever be (there).”

Mr Sykes added: “He’s spent hours and hours trying to get better. If you’ve heard anything about him, he’s almost extreme in trying to get better.

“We hope you will help bring Terry home off that mountain with a fair verdict today.”

Lawrence Buhler, also representing Mr Sanderson, suggested that the jury award him damages of more than $3m.

“You have the power here, before we were just arguing and presenting evidence… but now the judge is going to pass the case to you. This is where you decide what happens next,” he said.

Paltrow and Sanderson have both taken to the witness stand throughout the trial. Credit: AP

Mr Buhler said that Mr Sanderson had told him he would rather “go back in time” but calculated a total sum of 3,276,000 dollars (£2,645,861).

Writing on a board Mr Buhler explained his working, saying: “Sixteen hours a day, times 365 days a year… Terry is likely to live another 10 years, though we hope he lives a lot longer… that’s 17 years.

“There is no price that you can give for Terry’s time, but what is the value that has been taken away from Terry?

“Sixteen times 365, times 17, times… I’m going to say 33 dollars (£26). This equation is 3,276,000 dollars.”

He added: “This case is not about celebrity… this is about a man’s life.”

In the past week both Ms Paltrow and Mr Sanderson have entered the witness box to recount their version of events.

Throughout the trial jurors have also heard from a variety of medical experts, ski instructors, and members of both Mr Sanderson and Ms Paltrow’s family, including the actress’s children Apple and Moses Martin.

Jurors will be sent to deliberate on their verdicts in the case after closing arguments from both sides are concluded.

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