The Memo: Gwyneth Paltrow wins civil court case

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Celebrity courtroom drama, take two: Gwyneth Paltrow wins civil court case

Cait Evans – 3 April 2023

Like them or loathe them, the internet is obsessed with celebrity courtroom battles. Just months after the infamous Jonny Depp v Amber Heard showdown, another A-lister has been in the spotlight for what has been a bizarre trial to say the least.

It all began in 2016 on a ski slope in Utah. Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson alleges that the actress Gwyneth Paltrow crashed into him coming down the slope and took off without exchanging details. He alleged the incident resulted in an irreparable brain injury that has destroyed his life. He originally was looking to sue for $3 million in damages, but this was reduced to $300k pretrial. Paltrow, by contrast, argued that it was in fact Sanderson that came too close behind her, causing their skis to collide and her to fall on top of him. She counterclaimed $1 and the cost of her legal fees.

The trial took place over the course of two weeks and was quite the spectacle. Some highlights include the moment Paltrow’s lawyers asking if they could bring in ‘treats’ for the courtroom staff, Sanderson lamenting that he could no longer enjoy wine tasting anymore and one of Sanderson’s own lawyers fangirling over Paltrow whilst questioning her on the stand; it all felt like a bit of a White Lotus spin-off.

In just 2 hours and twenty minutes, the jury came back with the unanimous decision that Sanderson was 100% responsible for the accident. No doubt the Goop founder and her team celebrated with a glass of bone broth (or two). But for all its sensationalism and meme-able content, the trial certainly opened the lid on litigation to the general public once again. These high-profile cases have made the judicial process very accessible and engaging for people across the globe.

For us in the UK, we are yet to be subjected to any high-profile TV trials, though we can’t pretend like we wouldn’t have tuned into the Wagatha Christie trial if it was on the telly. Saying this, as of last year, TV cameras were introduced into some courtrooms across the country so who knows... watch this space!