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A juror in the Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash trial had gone back and forth about who was at fault throughout the testimony in a Park City, Utah, courtroom. But in the end, it was the defendant’s ski expert and plaintiff Terry Sanderson’s cross-examination that convinced her the actress was not at fault.
“I think it’s important that the public doesn’t just think that this was a win because Gwyneth’s a celebrity. I mean, this is based on the evidence. This is based on the law,” Samantha Imrie, who was juror No. 11, told Good Morning America in an exclusive interview.
Paltrow’s expert, biomechanical engineering expert Irving Scher, appeared to sway jurors with his science of the crash, Imrie said, noting his background with snow science was a big factor in her decision.
The photos showing Sanderson traveling around the world after the crash, which he claimed had left him permanently injured, also did not help the retired optometrist’s case.
“I wouldn’t have thought he was capable of those things based on the picture that had been painted,” Imrie added.
While both the plaintiff and defendant testified, it was the Academy Award-winning actress’ testimony that won over the jury.
“I think there was, in the back of my mind, yes, this woman’s an actress and I took that into account, but I didn’t feel she had a reason to lie under oath,” Imrie said.
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Paltrow, 50, was sued by Sanderson, 76, who claimed that the accident left him with permanent brain damage and various other maladies. Some of those injuries, like four broken ribs, were not contested by Paltrow’s defense team.
The actress hotly disputed who caused the crash in the first place. She claimed Sanderson skied directly into her back that cold February day and cost her a “half a day of skiing” and time with her family.
Sanderson requested some $3.27 million dollars in non-economic damages for loss of enjoyment; Paltrow requested one dollar and attorneys’ fees.
During the nearly two-week-long trial, jurors heard from an eyewitness to the crash who claimed Paltrow was at fault. A ski instructor working for Paltrow’s family that day who admittedly did not see the crash – and who was named a defendant in the original lawsuit – put the blame on Sanderson. Various medical experts testified about the plaintiff’s physical and mental health before and after the crash. Jurors also patiently sat through hours of physics equations about force and velocity by experts with dueling maths.
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Both Paltrow and Sanderson took the stand as well.
After two hours and 20 minutes of deliberation, jurors unanimously agreed with the actress’ version of events.
The verdict was a clean sweep for Paltrow and she won her requested one dollar in damages.
The issue of attorneys’ fees will be dealt with by the court in a later hearing and was not up for jurors to decide.
Law&Crime’s Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
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