Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow (50, "Iron Man") has been seen in a courtroom in the US state of Utah since last week, mostly with a straight face. Visibly relieved, she waved to onlookers and reporters on Thursday (local time) when she left the building. A few minutes earlier, the Oscar winner had won a headline-grabbing lawsuit involving a skiing accident. She was not at fault in a 2016 crash on a runway at Utah's Deer Valley ski resort, eight jurors found.
After eight days of trial with many witnesses and expert testimonies, the jury deliberated for only two and a half hours and then reached a unanimous verdict. The jury found the plaintiff, now 76, completely to blame for the incident. He now has to pay Paltrow a symbolic compensation of one US dollar. In a later hearing, the judge wants to decide whether the man also has to pay the actress' legal fees.
A symbolic dollar in damages
Paltrow thanked the judge and jury for their "hard work" in a statement. She did not give interviews after the verdict, but the actress emphasized her willingness to fight the case in court. Merely accepting the plaintiff's false allegation would have compromised her "integrity," Paltrow wrote in her statement. She had filed a countersuit, demanding a token dollar in damages and reimbursement of her attorney's fees.
It should not have been easy for her to appear in front of the court cameras. As in the previous year in the bitter defamation trial between ex-husbands Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, every day of the trial was broadcast live worldwide.
On the witness stand, Paltrow vehemently denied the plaintiff's allegations that she skied "out of control," crashed into him, and was responsible for his permanent brain damage and quadruple broken ribs. The pensioner had initially demanded more than three million US dollars in damages. However, a judge rejected some of the allegations and reduced the possible compensation claim to $ 300,000 (around 275,000 euros).
"I heard a very strange grunting noise"
The man "skied right into my back," Paltrow said in court. She was confused and initially feared the collision was a prank or sexual. "I was skiing and two skis got between my skis and pushed my legs apart. And then a body was pushing against me. And I heard a very strange grunting sound." It was a bizarre incident: "I was frozen and a few seconds later I got very angry," she added.
The plaintiff, in turn, presented the accident completely differently. Paltrow drove into him with such force that he was thrown through the air. Ski instructors, doctors and eyewitnesses had their say. Earlier testimonies from Paltrow's children, Apple and Moses Martin, were also read. They didn't follow the accident directly, but their then 11-year-old daughter Apple said her mother seemed shocked a little later. Son Moses, then nine years old, found his mother swearing loudly on the slopes.
Paltrow, who has children Apple and Moses with her ex-husband, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, was on a skiing holiday with her new boyfriend Brad Falchuk and his children. In 2018, the Oscar winner ("Shakespeare in Love") married the screenwriter and producer.