Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard Divorce Trial Verdict: How Much Do They Owe Each Other?

Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard Divorce Trial Verdict: How Much Do They Owe Each Other?

Johnny Depp has successfully filed a $50m (£40m) defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, over accusations of domestic violence.

A seven-person civil jury in Virginia found Mrs. Heard slandered Pirates of the Caribbean And the Fantastic beasts A star when she pointed out that he abused her in a 2018 opinion piece for Washington Post.

The jury also upheld one of Heard’s three claims in a $100 million counterclaim against Depp and his attorney, who called her original allegations in 2016 an “ambush” and a “hoax.”

However, neither side received the full amount of compensation they were seeking.

How much money was Depp and Heard given?

The jury awarded Depp in compensatory damages of $10 million and punitive damages of $5 million, compared to the $50 million requested by his attorneys.

Ms. Heard received compensatory damages of $2 million and no punitive damages, compared to the $100 million requested by the counterclaim.

Since Virginia law limits punitive damages to $350,000, the actress is liable to pay Depp a total of $10.35 million.

Altogether, this leaves Depp $8.35 million from the trial, although it is unclear who will be required to pay his legal costs.

The damage to either party cannot be avoided by bankruptcy, which Depp is said to have come close to doing in 2009.


Where does this result leave both parties?

Dan Abrams, founder of Experimental News Network Law and crime She called the result a “real surprise” and a “total loss for Amber Heard,” arguing that the $2 million awarded to her was “truly a symbolic win.”

He said, “It seems to me that the conclusion from this case is that these jurors believed Johnny Depp and didn’t believe Amber Heard. I don’t think there is any other way to explain all these judgments together.”

The ruling contrasted with another similar case in the UK, where Depp unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit the sun For calling him “wife beater”. His appeal was rejected in March 2021.

Although British libel law has traditionally been kinder to the aggrieved party than it is in the US, the judge found that the newspaper had proven its article to be “largely true” and that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence had actually occurred.

To complicate matters, Depp previously paid Heard $7 million as part of a divorce settlement that was finalized in 2017. Although Heard had publicly pledged to donate this to charity, she testified at trial that she was unable to end it due to the trial, which she said cost her “More than $6 million” in legal fees.

Ms. Heard’s spokesman said New York times They plan to resume the score.

Why was the damage so high?

The amount awarded to Mr. Depp reflects the jury’s belief that Ms Heard acted with “genuine malice”, meaning that she either knew her claims were false or acted with “reckless disregard for the truth” when she wrote her op-ed and “reposted” it by retweeting it on Twitter.

The opinion piece did not mention Mr. Depp, but Ms. Heard had previously publicly accused him of domestic violence two years earlier. Hence, Mr. Depp’s lawyers argued that she was clearly referring to him.

Before the sentencing, the judge instructed the jury to select a level of damages that would “fairly compensate the plaintiffs” for financial losses due to defamatory statements, damage to their business, damage to their reputation, and “any pain, embarrassment, insult, or psychological suffering” .

They were asked to award punitive damages further only if they believed Heard’s statements, or those of Depp’s attorney, were intentionally false or made “recklessly to the point of a willful disregard for the truth” – implying that the speakers “highly aware that The statements may have been wrong.”

The jury apparently believed that at least one of Heard’s statements warranted those punitive damages, while only one of Depp’s attorneys removed the minimum damages.

What was the data in dispute?

Heard first accused Depp of abuse in 2016, when she filed for divorce and obtained a temporary restraining order against him.

“Throughout our relationship, Johnny abused me verbally and physically. I experienced excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him,” she said at the time.

After the divorce was settled, they released a joint statement saying, “Neither party made false accusations for financial gain. There was no intention of physical or emotional harm.”

In 2018, though, Heard wrote an op-ed on sexual violence identifying herself as a survivor. Depp’s lawsuit targeted three sections of this article, which he said were false and defamatory.

The first was the headline, which Heard did not write, which read: “I’ve spoken out about sexual violence — and faced the wrath of our culture.” The second is her claim that “two years ago, I became a public figure of domestic violence, and I felt the full force of our culture’s anger toward women who speak up.”

Part Three reads: “I had the rare view of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Per the judge’s instructions, the jury had to believe not only that these three allegations were false, but that others would read them as referring to Depp, that Heard “designed and intended” to defame him, and that she made them with real malice.

Meanwhile, Heard’s counterclaim concerned three statements from Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman. At first, he accused “Heard and her friends in the media” of “we[ing] False allegations of sexual violence as a sword and a shield at the same time.”

In the second, Heard claimed that Heard and her friends had deliberately “set Mr. Depp” by fabricating the damage to their home, orchestrating their stories together, then making a false emergency call. In the third, he referred to Heard’s allegations as an “abuse hoax.”

The jury decided that only the second allegation met all the criteria for defamation, meaning that it was false and made with genuine malice.

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