The retired optometrist who unsuccessfully sued Gwyneth Paltrow over a 2016 ski crash says taking the Oscar-winning actor to court had “absolutely not” been worth it so far, but he also had not ruled out pursuing an appeal.
Terry Sanderson, 76, made the remarks after civil court jurors in Park City, Utah, on Thursday found him at fault in his collision with Paltrow at the Deer Valley ski resort.
The trial of more than a week – which was televised live – involved testimony on Sanderson’s private life given by his daughters and his ex-girlfriend and about his medical history, which included 15 documented conditions before he ever crashed with Paltrow. When he took the witness stand himself, Sanderson joked about how he would probably never be able to use a dating site again because of the infamy the litigation might bring him and described that as “the pain of trying to sue a celebrity”.
Jurors ultimately ordered Sanderson to give Paltrow the $1 that she had symbolically demanded for damages in a countersuit against the retired doctor and to reimburse her for the legal fees she had incurred, which pundits say could end up costing him about seven figures. Asked by reporters afterward if he thought pursuing a case against Paltrow was worthwhile despite the outcome, he replied bluntly “absolutely not”.
“Knowing that now, no,” it wasn’t worthwhile, Sanderson said on a video clip published by the entertainment news outlet Extra. “I joked about dating sites, right? It’s like, I’m going to be on the internet forever.” A reporter for Extra said Sanderson would probably have a shot at landing himself a reality television show if he wanted one, but with a smile he replied: “I don’t need that.”
In a statement on Friday, Sanderson’s attorney, Robert Sykes, said he and his client were exploring their remaining legal options and that those included possibly asking a higher Utah state court to consider overturning the verdict that the jury handed up against their side. Otherwise, Sykes added, Sanderson asked for the public to respect his privacy as he deliberated how to move forward.
Sanderson’s turn under the international media’s glare came after he and Paltrow crashed while they skied on 26 February 2016 at the Deer Valley resort known for its groomed runs, champagne yurts and tony clientele.
He later demanded more than $3m in damages from Paltrow before adjusting that amount to $300,000, alleging that she was skiing recklessly when she hit him, knocking him out, causing him a brain injury and breaking four of his ribs, along with other injuries. He also argued that Paltrow’s negligence on the slopes in the community which annually hosts the Sundance film festival deprived him of his enjoyment of life’s pleasures, among them wine tastings.
Paltrow countersued Sanderson, accusing him of exaggerating his injuries in an effort to capitalize on her fame and wealth as an actor and as the founder of the lifestyle brand Goop. When she took the witness stand during the recent trial, she claimed she feared for a moment after the crash that someone had bumped into her to sexually assault her before she realized it was an accident.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the case involved determining whether Paltrow or Sanderson was downhill on the slope and therefore had the right of way.
A report from Paltrow’s ski instructor said Sanderson was clearly uphill before he and the actor collided. A friend of Sanderson’s, Craig Ramon, said their group was going downhill when he saw Paltrow crash into the back of the retired physician.
Paltrow’s legal team sought to undermine Sanderson’s standing with jurors by establishing that he sent an email after the crash titled “I’m famous” and by arguing that some of the physical symptoms of which he complained were consistent with his age.
Sanderson has said Paltrow told him “I wish you well” as she left the courtroom after the reading of the verdict in her favor on Thursday. Analysts told the Guardian that Paltrow’s brand was likely to be unaffected or enhanced by the litigation that Sanderson has waged on her, with the proceedings giving both fans and detractors reasons to confirm their initial impressions of the actor and lifestyle influencer.
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