Gwyneth Paltrow’s Trial: The Wackiest Moments from Rich People Court

The verdict’s in! Gwyneth Paltrow’s ongoing trial is a deliciously ridiculous combination of wealth, celebrity and courtroom drama. Naturally, the internet’s hooked. We’ve been following every last second and are ready to give you the run-down on all of it, from ruined wine tastings to fan-girling attorneys. And we’re also wondering, what exactly is it about celebrity court cases that everyone finds so alluring?


Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski crash trial is a deliciously ridiculous combination of wealth, celebrity and courtroom drama. Naturally, the internet’s hooked. We’ve been following every last second and are ready to give you the run-down on all of it, from ruined wine tastings and fan-girling attorneys to the final verdict. Plus,we’re wondering, what exactly is it about celebrity court cases that everyone finds so alluring? Jury’s out!

Kristin Vanorman: “Kinda look like everybody else on the slope?”

Qwyneth Paltrow: “That’s always my intention.”

Kristin Vanorman: “Probably had a better ski outfit though, I bet.” – Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Ski Crash Trial — FULL Testimony

It all started in 2016, seven years ago, when Gwyneth Paltrow and her now-husband Brad Falchuk took their respective kids to snowy Utah so they could get to know one another on the slopes. There, retired optometrist, Terry Sanderson, claims Gwenyth injured him in what he called a “ski and run,” while she claims he skied into her. Here are all the weird and wonderful things we can’t stop thinking about when it comes to this epitome of a rich, white dispute with side characters and subplots worthy of a courtroom sitcom:

Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow has built a lucrative second career for herself selling her lifestyle. But she’s still pretty private and controlled about what she shares – so it’s fascinating to catch a glimpse of the extent of her wealthy existence through this trial. She’s arrived in court wearing luxury clothing and jewelry – the gold necklace alone is believed to be worth $65000.

Her glam, sometimes camp fashion choices have become an online obsession, and she’s been described as dressing like Adam Driver in House of Gucci or a woman from the 80s who’s hired a hitman to kill her husband. We’re getting a window into how much the Goop icon – who’s known for selling over-the-top wellness, bone broth diet, body brushing and the infamous jade eggs – actually lives these eccentric, expensive practices day to day.

kashmeredanny: “…The fact that you’re talking to these people right now, do they know you’re goop? Do they know that you could devour them for breakfast? Oh breakfast is like a meal that people usually eat uh, typically in the morning.” – TikTok

Deer Valley, where the alleged incident took place, is one of the most luxurious ski resorts in the US, frequented by celebrities, politicians and billionaires. Since the trial started, the jury heard that, on the 2016 vacation, Paltrow spent $9000 on private ski lessons alone. Obviously we’re wondering if Sanderson sees the celebrity with a rumored net worth of at least $200 million as a target, but it appears Sanderson’s pretty rich too. Although we’re not sure exactly how rich, his presence at Deer Valley is an indicator.

It’s hard to know who to feel sorry for in a trial where the big headlines seem to be about, well, lots of money. Sanderson complained that he can no longer enjoy wine tastings. He says he’s been a ‘self imposed recluse’ since the accident, which Paltrow’s lawyer countered by providing photographic evidence of Sanderson enjoying dozens of glamorous vacations around the world post-accident.

Naturally, Sanderson argued that these trips to exotic locations like the Amazon and Peru simply were not enjoyable, and he had only attended them on advice of his therapist who thought that visiting the Netherlands three times, Morocco twice, and countless other destinations could be a part of his “healing process”. Meanwhile, when Paltrow was asked about the impact the crash had had on her, she said:

Gwyneth Paltrow: “Well I lost half a day of skiing, yes.” – Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Ski Crash Trial — FULL Testimony

This didn’t elicit much sympathy and was immediately parodied – hard. Busy Philipps posted a tragic shot on Instagram with the caption ‘Well, we lost a half a day skiing’, while some of the trial’s followers joked the entire thing must have been written by White Lotus creator Mike White. To add to the borderline surreal tone of the proceedings, Paltrow’s team asked if they could bring ‘treats’ for the bailiffs, given how helpful they’d been, a request that was quickly shut down by the judge. We don’t know what the treats would’ve been – but we’re guessing Goop care packages. Fun! And the hits just kept on coming.

One of Sanderson’s lawyers, Kristin VanOrman, has taken a super strange approach in her interactions with Paltrow.

Gwyneth Paltrow: “I was pretty upset.”

Kristin VanOrman: You’re small but mighty. Actually you’re not that small.” – Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Ski Crash Trial — FULL Testimony

She seems to be star struck by the actress, giving her compliments, commenting on her clothing, asking about her friendships, and even questioning how much she tips– and remember she’s supposed to be on the other side. Though she manages to bring much of the questioning back to the case, she goes from odd angles– when she talked about Paltrow’s height, she compared it to her own, fishing for compliments on her four inch heels.

We have to question if VanOrman, one of the trial’s breakout stars, has Johnny Depp lawyer Camille Vasquez on her mind and is actively trying to cultivate a friendly image where she doesn’t alienate the popular celebrity? One of the most fascinating things about the case is how different the two accounts are. Sanderson claims that Paltrow plowed into him and that the collision resulted in broken ribs and concussion – an incident he described felt like ‘King Kong coming out of the jungle’ or an attack by ‘Godzilla’.

Paltrow, on the other hand, says Sanderson skied into her, and that her initial thought was it must be ‘something perverted’ as his skis parted her legs. There are eyewitnesses to the account, but it’s very difficult to ascertain what happened, given that both skiers were wearing helmets and similar clothing, and the main question at hand is who was further downhill when it happened.

kodi.coyote: “I was just skiing down the hill when this huge ginormous lump of lard fat ass piece of shit crashed into me.” – TikTok

Still, both legal teams have tried to prove their clients’ separate accounts with detailed scientific calculations. Sanderson’s lawyers called on neurologist Dr. Richard Boehne to say that his injuries could only be caused by Paltrow crashing into him. Meanwhile, Paltrow’s team called biomechanical engineer Dr Irving Scher who claimed her account lines up with ‘the laws of physics’ and Sanderson’s witness Boehne’s measurements were ‘thrown off by incorrect velocity’.

Sanderson already sued in 2019 for over 3 million dollars, but that quote “hit and run” case was dismissed by the judge. So he’s now trying to take her for $300 thousand, claiming that her “reckless skiing” caused him brain injuries. The media has called the $300,000 a relatively low sum, given the type of trial. But overall, this is the moment when many of us realized for the first time that suing for bad skiing is even a thing you can do!?

Meanwhile, Paltrow’s counter-suing – but for a dollar, plus legal fees. This prompted Sanderson’s lawyer VanOrman to take another strange route in questioning – repeatedly asking Paltrow if she was close friends with Taylor Swift, who sued David Mueller, a DJ who assaulted her, for $1 in 2021.

Kristin VanOrman: “Are you good friends with Taylor Swift?”

Gwyneth Paltrow: “No?”

Kristin VanOrman: “You’ve never given miss swift personal gifts for christmas?”

Steve Owens: “Your honor, relevance?”

Judge: “Sustained”—Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Ski Crash Trial — FULL Testimony

The implication was that Paltrow was copying Swift. But this isn’t a new thing at all – Taylor Swift didn’t invent it. It’s called suing for nominal damages. For example, Meghan Markle was previously awarded one British pound in nominal damages by the British press. Law Insider defines ‘nominal damages’ as often being for $1, saying they’re so that the plaintiff ‘may be vindicated or recognized, and not for the purpose of indemnifying the plaintiff for any loss suffered by him.’

In other words, this is exactly the move anyone would expect from someone like Gwyneth who doesn’t need money but wants to make a point. So why was this commonly known legal trope a surprise to VanOrman? Some theorized that she had another agenda…

leahknauer: “So I just want to make it clear to the courtroom, mrs paltrow, you cannot get me tickets to the eras tour?” – TikTok

Ultimately, the jury found Gwyneth not at fault. The ruling marked the end to the absurdly meme-able proceedings, awarding the millionaire Goop magnate her sizable prize of a single dollar bill. Though, on her way out, Gwyneth provided one more nugget of hilarity, whispering ‘I wish you well’ to Sanderson, to which he replied ‘Thank you dear’.

It was a noble gesture from the wellness star to the retired eye-care professional, who had at last solved their rich-people court-room quibble. When all is said and done, there’s one clear verdict we can firmly stand on: between the countless time wasted for all parties, the plaintiff walking away with nothing but more legal fees, and the defendant skipping home with a buck, it’s clear the true winner was… everyone watching at home.

Celebrity court cases have always been the subject of fascination. So why do we focus on them so much? Ever since the first highly publicized Hollywood scandal – and the ensuing court cases against Fatty Arbuckle – the public has had an obsession with seeing celebrities in court. The Hollywood 10 trial – which centered on script writers and producers who were accused of being communists – has been the subject of multiple movies.

Lindsay Lohan’s nail art at her 2010 probation hearing caused more of a furore than the actual courtroom content. The OJ Simpson trial – one of the most famous in history – inadvertently launched the Kardashian sisters’ careers, and of course the 2022 Johnny Depp, Amber Heard defamation case showed that today’s audiences are far more interested in this as entertainment than in most scripted dramas actively courting their views.

Amber Heard: “It was peaceful, and then he started talking about the feces.” – Amber Heard ADMITS To POOPING On Johnny Depp’s Bed During Testifying *LIVE FOOTAGE*

The celebrity trial has such a hold on us because we get to see what’s behind the curtain – glamorous people whose private lives are traditionally off-limits to us suddenly have to become candid about details they’d rather not share. So, in the tiniest of ways, we’re shown that these gilded lives – which might seem too-good-to-be-true – are… if not normal, still imperfect, and full of indignities and frustrations. Apart from, perhaps, Gwyneth Paltrow’s. Sure, she missed half a day of skiing, but she still managed to make the most of it…


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