Gwyneth Paltrow is Suing a Retired Optometrist for One Dollar: Why her Lawsuit has some Merits

Greta Nunez

Like the days of the Roman Colosseum; modern court cases become an entertainment spectacle that captures the attention of the general public as they watch the battles of litigation unfold between the parties involved.

While death was once the penalty in the arena, today in America, it is a struggle to maintain one's reputation and freedom and less commonly life-threatening.

Recent legal affairs such as Depp v. Heard or the many newly reopened cases looking into the Murdaugh family exemplify that trials are not necessarily about the sum of money awarded but more about a fight to save a person's reputation and uphold Constitutional rights. A court case can make or break a celebrity's career and it shows the old tradition of glory awarded to those that are victorious in battle is still alive in one way or another.
Dollar LawsuitPhoto byLanguage Made Visual

With this in mind, the outlandish-sounding lawsuit, where Gwyneth Paltrow is suing a retired optometrist, might sound a little less outlandish.

The actress is being sued for $300,000, for allegedly running into Terry Sanderson in 2016 while skiing in Utah and neglecting to render assistance. Sanderson is claiming a brain injury, four broken ribs, and additional serious trauma are all a result of Paltrow's impact with him.
Personal Injury CompensationPhoto byGetty Images

On the other hand, Paltrow is only asking for a single dollar in damages – not only to symbolize how little Sanderson’s case means to her but also to highlight the importance of triumph in the field of law.

Compensatory damages, like Sanderson’s, are the most commonly awarded type of damages and are issued when a court decides that an individual should be repaid for the financial losses suffered as a result of damage or, pain and suffering that may also occur.

These damages may be broken down into two main categories:

  • Economic damages- are measurable costs like medical bills or tangible losses like lost wages as a consequence of missing work due to an injury,
  • Non-economic damages - cover things that can't easily be calculated, such as mental anguish, the losing the companionship of a partner, or diminished quality of life

Punitive damages, while not as common, are imposed by a court when it seeks to punish someone else's action or inaction in order to deter similar behaviors in the future. This type of legal compensation may be applied in situations where the affected individual desires not only recompense for their loss but also assurance that similar events will not occur again.

In the instance of the Paltrow-Sanderson conflict, the court may decide that Paltrow's carelessness was especially shocking or unpleasant, and as such may award a judgment for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are granted to a plaintiff to reprimand a defendant for particularly disreputable conduct, and to prevent similar occurrences from occurring in the future.

Nominal damages, like what Paltrow has counter-sued Sanderson for, are small token amounts that a court may award when a plaintiff cannot prove a loss in value or other compensation. They are awarded in cases where the court determines that there was some degree of harm done, but that harm does not require any actual monetary compensation.

Though they may seem small, nominal damages still serve an important role in upholding a person's right to seek justice.

The reason such minimal payouts remain crucial is that regardless of the damage, a court will still stand behind a plaintiff’s right to obtain justice. This is precisely the case in Gwyneth Paltrow's counterclaim to when Sanderson in which she demands the trivial sum of one dollar as nominal damages, in order to confirm her legal stance. It is a token of acknowledgment that shows that their case was legitimate.
LawPhoto byGetty Images

The legal system in America today has become almost a parallel to the coliseums of Ancient Rome where citizens watched and applauded as those who were allegedly guilty were commanded to compete for their lives.

Rather than physical death, these court battles of today are determined by one's reputation, or "public image," as the battleground. Whether it is Johnny Depp's libel case against the tabloid press or the media circus that surrounded the Murdaugh family, both criminal and civil justice processes now dictate a person's perceived integrity in the eyes of the public. With these nominal damages, delivered by the courts, one's career may be saved or lost- making them incredibly important to those of fame and celebrity.

When it comes to civil court and personal injury cases, there is a range of different kinds of damages that a court may award in a variety of different circumstances.

Whether the amount is minuscule or far-reaching, all of these forms of legal reparation still continue to remain an important legal right, regardless of the monetary amount.

Comments / 6

Published by

Greta Nunez is a writer who is passionate about taking complex legal topics and making them accessible to everyone - regardless of background or education level.

New Berlin, WI

More from Greta Nunez

Comments / 0