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What the Hell Happened: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ski Trial

Gwyneth Paltrow at the French premiere of "Iron Man 3" in 2013.
Gwyneth Paltrow at the French premiere of "Iron Man 3" in 2013. By Courtesy of Georges Biard / Wikimedia Commons
By Thomas Ferro, Crimson Staff Writer

As the results of the trial were read out by the jury, Gwyneth Paltrow nodded calmly, her hands folded on the table before her. She exhaled a sigh of relief — she had won.

Paltrow — the Goop C.E.O. and Oscar-winning actress most famous for her roles as Margot Tenenbaum in “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Marge Sherwood in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — won her court case in March after being sued by Terry Sanderson for allegedly crashing into him on a ski slope in Utah. Refusing to settle, Paltrow chose to defend her name and reputation in the courtroom, countersuing Sanderson’s $300,000 lawsuit for $1.

Because of comments made by Sanderson’s attorney, such as “You’re small but mighty,” “Are you good friends with Taylor Swift?” as well as an unnecessarily lengthy discourse about Paltrow’s height, on which the attorney commented, “Okay, I am so jealous,” Paltrow’s trial garnered an extensive amount of media coverage, including articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.

Yet, above all, it was Paltrow’s casual indifference that drew the spotlight. From her curated and muted wardrobe — highlighted for its expensive sophistication — and her artisan water bottles sourced from the Ouachita Mountains, to her calm and polite demeanor, Paltrow exuded the life she leads as an emblem of fashion, cinema, and lifestyle brands.

While the media seems to have focused on some of her striking comments — when asked in her testimony, for example, how the incident affected her vacation, Paltrow replied “Well, I lost half a day of skiing” — there was little emphasis on the actual technicalities of the trial. With money not necessarily being Paltrow’s primary concern, it’s hard not to think that a settlement would have been easier. But, she chose the more difficult route of taking the time to clear her name. At the end of the day, she was sued, she responded, and she won.

More than a week after entering the courtroom for the first time wearing an alpine cream turtleneck sweater, sleeves pushed up to her elbows, aviator glasses, and wrists adorned with gold bracelets, ready to refute Sanderson’s allegations, Paltrow finally walked out of the courtroom victorious, allegedly whispering, to Sanderson, “I wish you well.”

—Staff writer Thomas Ferro can be reached at

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