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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

The Gwyneth Paltrow ski trial is utterly bizarre, and I never want it to end


By Sarah Gill
29th Mar 2023
The Gwyneth Paltrow ski trial is utterly bizarre, and I never want it to end

A public civil case that’s been going viral for a myriad of reasons ranging from its embodiment of privilege to the effusive fan-girling of Paltrow’s prosecutor — this hit-and-run trial deserves a Golden Globe.

If you weren’t already absolutely certain that we’re living in a truly absurd dystopian simulation, the genuine entertainment value of this incredibly low stakes legal battle certainly confirms it. Leaning more towards a camp satire than an actual real life courtcase, the Gwyneth Paltrow ski trial is serving as a commentary on the richest of the rich white woman — and the privilege associated with that — with a side of baffling fandom and devastatingly chic wardrobe choices.

Giving a performance that positions herself perfectly for a starring role in season three of The White Lotus, Oscar-winning actress, Goop founder and High Priestess of highfalutin wellness hacks Gwyneth Paltrow is in the second week of a hit-and-run trial taking place in a Park City, Utah, courtroom that’s set to adjourn with closing arguments on Thursday.

So, here’s a quick rundown

Gwyneth Paltrow is being sued for over $300,000 by Terry Sanderson, a well-to-do 76-year-old retired optometrist who alleges that the actress and businesswoman skied into him in Deer Valley Resort, Utah, back in 2016. In 2019, Sanderson filed an original lawsuit for $3.1 million, but it was thrown out by a judge. Sanderson claims that he suffered broken ribs and brain injury symptoms following the collision, while Paltrow argues that it was actually Sanderson who skied into her, and is countersuing for $1.

On the stand, Sanderson said: “I got hit in my back so hard and right at my shoulder blades and it felt like it was perfectly centered and the fists and the poles were right at the bottom of my shoulder blades. I’ve never been hit that hard… All I saw was a whole lot of snow.”

Finally taken to trial, seven years after the fact, Sanderson v Paltrow is being streamed live on the Law&Crime Network Youtube channel and testimonies are being thoroughly meme-ified. Highlighting just how out of touch A-list lifestyle gurus can be, and how blinded by celebrity highly educated lawyers can become, it all just seems a little farcical — and I wouldn’t change a thing. No notes.

Here are some of the weirdest and most wonderful moments thus far…

Paltrow’s casualty

You’re laughing? Gwyneth Paltrow missed out on half a day’s skiing and you’re laughing?

Yes, Terry Sanderson may well have suffered broken ribs and literal brain damage, but Our Lord and Saviour Gwyneth Paltrow lost half a day of skiing. Have some perspective, have some compassion, have some decency, won’t you!?

Prosecutor Kristin Van Orman

It’s obviously not every day that you represent a client who’s bringing damages against someone as influential and remarkable as the five foot ten inches Gwyneth Paltrow. During her cross examination, Kristin Van Orman seems to have gone off script and is playing the role of gal pal confidante, instead of the ardent attorney she was cast as. Van Orman uses her time to let Paltrow know that she’s jealous of her height, and that she needs four inch heels to make it to five-foot-five.

Taylor Swift

As we know, Paltrow is countersuing Sanderson for $1 in symbolic damages, a point that Van Orman lingers upon. Did Paltrow know that Swift had countersued former DJ Taylor Mueller, who accused her of defamation and whom she accused of sexual assault, for $1 in 2017? In fact, forget that, how close of friends are Paltrow and Swift? Matter of fact, has Paltrow ever given Miss Swift personal, intimate Christmas gifts? The people want to know!

Treats or bribes?

Given that Paltrow is extremely famous in every sense of the word, the bailiffs of this Utah courtroom has to take extra measures to accommodating Paltrow’s movements to that she could make it to the stand un-papped. In order to thank them for their service, Paltrow’s lawyer, Steve Owens, asks Judge Kent Holmberg with his whole chest if they could “bring in treats for the bailiffs for how helpful they’ve been.”

Sanderson’s attorneys obviously objected to the request, and the judge responds: “Okay, there’s an objection so thank you, but no thank you. If the parties decide to do that later, that’s fine, too.” What constitutes a treat-cum-bribe these days anyway? Bone broth? A vagina-scented candle, perhaps? Jade crystals for to help tighten the pelvic floor?

Hate it or love it, the girl’s got style

Aside from the fact that her Aviator shades drew certain Jeffrey Dahmer comparisons on her first day in the hot seat, there’s no denying that Gwyneth Paltrow has been transforming Park City courtroom into her own personal catwalk over the course of the ski-and-run trial. She’s been donning some own-brand items from G Label by Goop, some Prada platforms, and fifty shades of beige that just ooze with opulence.

Trend alert — this season, we’re forecasting high-street interpretations of Paltrow’s high-end courtroom looks. Think luxurious neutrals, pursed lips, and a doe-eyed expression that just screams, “Me? You really think my teeny tiny frame could be capable of such damage?”

Wine tastings

Paltrow is not alone in her detachment from reality (cost of living crisis, looming recession, general ‘the end is nigh’ certainty), as Sanderson’s neuroradiology specialist, Dr. Wendell Gibby, told the court that in addition to his physical injuries, Terry is also suffering socially. “Terry had been a high-functioning, active person,” Dr. Gibby said. “Every day he was doing lots of things. Meeting groups, wine tasting, skiing, volunteering. After the accident, he deteriorated abruptly and many of the activities he loved to do, he stopped doing.”

Dear God, not the wine tastings.

With closing arguments set to be given on Thursday and a decision expected to be delivered by Friday, we’re optimistic that there’s more absurdity still in store. We watch on, theater binoculars in one hand, pearls clutched in the other, as the rest of the story unfolds…