Body language expert on how Gwyneth Paltrow celebrated court victory

Body language expert on how Gwyneth Paltrow celebrated court victory

April 7, 2023

How Gwyneth Paltrow coolly celebrated her court victory: Body language expert Judi James on the actress’s sign-off after winning acrimonious legal battle

  • Jurors found that Sanderson, 76, was ‘100 per cent’ to blame for the ski crash 

Gwyneth Paltrow was ‘cool but genuine’ when she told Terry Sanderson ‘I wish you well’ after a jury rejected his $300,000 compensation bid, body language expert Judi James told MailOnline today. 

Jurors found retired optometrist Sanderson, 76, was ‘100 per cent’ to blame for the 2016 crash at the upmarket Utah ski resort seven years ago. It took just two hours and 20 minutes for the jury to reach their verdict yesterday.  

As Ms Paltrow left court she walked over and touched Sanderson’s shoulder and said ‘I wish you well’. He responded: ‘Thank you dear.’

While social media commentators branded the gesture ‘ice cold’, Ms James said she has identified several clues which suggest the actress was being genuine.  

She told MailOnline: ‘Paltrow studies Sanderson’s face with her eyes as she leans over him, with an expression of concern. A sarcastic ritual might have produced an angry eye-stare or even caused her to be incongruent, touching his back but looking away at the same time. And her palm is held out in what looks like a gentle touch.

As Paltrow left court she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and said, ‘I wish you well,’ he told reporters outside the courthouse. He responded, ‘Thank you dear’

The actress sharing a moment with her lawyer after hearing she had run the case 

A beaten Mr Sanderson looked dejected, with his shoulders hunched and head bowed 

As she walks out her expressions doesn’t seem to change in a denial ritual that would have been like a knowing wink to the public.

‘Sanderson’s lowered head turns to the side but there is no visual response to suggest he feels her comment was staged rather than authentic.’

Ms James said Sanderson’s legal team looked ‘nonplussed’ by the gesture.

‘There seems to be no sign of any alertness of tension to suggest they had any worries this might have been a put-down or nasty aside from Paltrow,’ he continued. 

‘Then there is Sanderson’s own re-telling of the moment. Speaking to the press outside he repeats Paltrow’s comment of ‘#I wish you well#’ in a pleasant, calm and kindly voice to suggest that was how it was delivered. 

‘I’d say under the circumstances her comment was pretty elegant. If she had tried to inject more warmth or affection in there after everything she had sat through it would have looked like inauthentic overkill, so it was pitched about right, including the speed of the gesture. 

‘Any implied coolness could have come from the words, which do have a slight aftertaste of suggesting permanent parting to inform him she had no expectation of seeing him again, which could in turn drop a hint that this verdict is the end of their encounter. It implies ”in the future” and therefore sounds like an emphatic sign-off.’

Terry Sanderson, 76, is seen leaving the Utah courtroom on Thursday

The actress left court in Park City having told her opponent Terry Sanderson: ‘I wish you the best’

Ms Paltrow, the 50-year-old founder of the luxury wellness brand Goop, is worth $200million (£161million) and won an Oscar for her role in Shakespeare in Love. 

Her adversary, Mr Sanderson, is a twice-divorced retired optometrist from Utah, whose net worth is unknown. 

Sanderson must hand Ms Paltrow a symbolic $1 in damages – but must pay his and Gwyneth’s legal costs, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last night she looked nervous as the verdict was read out and sat with her hands together on her desk. When the clerk of the court declared that Mr Sanderson was to blame, she nodded in appreciation. As the judge thanked the jury she nodded her head in appreciation at them again.

The decision comes after eight days of live-streamed courtroom testimony that drew worldwide audiences and became a pop culture fixation. 

The actress smiled and waved at photographers as she made her way out of court but refused to comment.

Paltrow’s attorney read a statement from the actress outside court. 

Gwyneth Paltrow has won her case against retired optometrist Terry Sanderson who claimed she caused a 2016 ski collision that left him with him lasting brain damage

Paltrow’s legal team, led by Stephen Owens, thanked the jury for their service

Stephen Owens, representing the actress, said: ‘We’re pleased with the outcome and appreciate the judge and jury’s consideration. 

‘Gwyneth has a history of standing up for what’s right and this situation is no different. She will continue to stand up for what’s right.’

A statement was released by her representatives. 

‘I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity,’ Paltrow said. 

‘I am pleased with the outcome and I appreciate all of the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and thank them for their thoughtfulness in handling this case.’

Meanwhile, a deflated Sanderson said he stands by his version of events, despite losing the case.

Asked what he plans to do next, he joked: ‘Maybe Disneyland!’

Speaking outside court, Sanderson’s lawyer Kristin Van Orman said she was not starstruck by Paltrow and added: ‘I’ve been a lawyer for 30 years and juries never surprise me.’

Of Sanderson, she added: ‘He is suffering, he’s a very nice man.’

The dismissal concludes two weeks of courtroom proceedings that hinged largely on reputation rather than the monetary damages at stake in the case. 

The actress smiled and waved at photographers as she made her way out of court

Meanwhile, a deflated Sanderson said he stands by his version, despite losing the case

What’s the verdict on Gwyneth’s courtroom chic? Click here for our immersive fashion review on The Mail+ 



Paltrow’s attorneys described the complaint against her as ‘utter B.S.’ and painted the Goop founder-CEO as uniquely vulnerable to unfair, frivolous lawsuits due to her celebrity. 

In his closing argument, Ms Paltrow’s lawyer Stephen Owens said that Ms Paltrow had been ‘pounded like a punching bag’ for the past two weeks during the trial.

Mr Owens said: ‘It’s not a nice thing for someone to throw a press conference and say like King Kong you knocked him out and walked away, skied away. That’s not what happened’.

‘He hit her, he hurt her and he wants $3million for it. That’s not fair.

‘The easy thing for my client would have been to write a cheque and be done with it but what does that tell her kids? (It’s) a cost of business? No it’s wrong that he hurt her and he wants money from her and that’s why we’re here’

‘It’s not about the money, it’s about ruining a very delicate time in a relationship where they’re trying to get their kids together. That’s what Terry Sanderson cost her’.

Paltrow took the witness stand during the trial to insist the collision wasn’t her fault, and to describe how she was stunned when she felt ‘a body pressing against me and a very strange grunting noise.’

While dad-of-three Sanderson says the actress skied into him while emitting what he described as ‘the best hysterical scream you’ve ever heard’, Paltrow says he crashed into her – causing her to lose half a day of skiing. 

Sanderson filed for damages in January 2019 – initially seeking $3.1 million. The sum was reduced by a judge to $300,000 in compensation for the injuries he sustained. 

Sanderson described on the stand that Paltrow hit him in the back and sent him flying 

Paltrow’s account of the collision with Terry Sanderson was shown in an animated reconstruction as the defense claims he was actually the one who hit the actress from behind

Paltrow then filed a countersuit asking for a symbolic $1 and for her legal expenses to be covered. 

Sanderson’s lawyers attempted to portray their client as someone who was lively and active before the accident, but significantly altered after.

He claims that she struck him in the back with such force that he was left with ‘permanent traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress and disfigurement’.

Sanderson told the court: ‘I just remember everything was great and then I heard something I’ve never heard at a ski resort, and that was a blood-curling scream. 

‘And then, boom, it was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die. That’s what I [remembered] until I was hit.’

‘I got hit in my back so hard… right at my shoulder-blades, and the fists and the poles were right there at the bottom of my shoulder-blades, serious, serious smack,’ he added. ‘Never been hit that hard.’

Gwyneth Paltrow (far right) reacts during closing arguments in her ski crash trial Thursday as Terry Sanderson’s lawyer (center) told the jury that her version of the story was wrong 

Paltrow gives a stunned look at Sanderson before looking over at her attorney who called the testimony ‘ridiculous.’ The judge then told the jury to disregard Sanderson’s words

Paltrow testified in court that Sanderson approached her from behind, and their skis became intertwined

In his complaint, Sanderson argued that Paltrow ‘got up, turned and skied away’ without summoning help, leaving him ‘stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured’. 

Paltrow and her team said that their ski instructor was on the scene and assisted Sanderson.

Paltrow’s team argued that Sanderson’s decline, though very sad, was not connected to the accident and pointed to prior medical issues.

They also emphasized that Sanderson’s daughter Jenny said her relationship with her father was troubled for many years.

And they repeatedly noted that Sanderson had emailed his daughters, saying: ‘I’m famous.’ 

Worldwide audiences followed the celebrity trial as if it were episodic television. Viewers scrutinized both Paltrow and Sanderson’s motives while attorneys directed questions to witnesses that often had less to do with the collision and more to do with their client’s reputations.

The trial took place in Park City, a resort town known for hosting the annual Sundance Film Festival, where early in her career Paltrow would appear for the premieres of her movies including 1998’s ‘Sliding Doors,’ at a time when she was known primarily as an actor, not a lifestyle influencer. 

Paltrow is also known for her roles in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and the ‘Iron Man’ movies. 

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