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Amber Heard Defamation Lawsuits With Johnny Depp


Jan 29, 2024
Amber Heard Defamation Lawsuits With Johnny Depp
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Amber Heard Defamation Lawsuits With Johnny Depp : Amber Heard is an American actress and model. As an actress, Amber Heard is known for appearing movies like “Aquaman,” “The Rum Diary,” “Never Back Down” and “Drive Angry.” Heard has also appeared on numerous television series and is known for her involvement in activism, especially in regard to LGBTQ rights.

Amber Heard $10 Million Judgment

As you likely know, in June 2022 a jury in Virginia found Amber guilty of defaming Johnny Depp related to the Op-ed she published in the Washington Post in 2018. The jury initially awarded Johnny $15 million, made up of $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were quickly reduced to $350,000 to comply with Virginia law that caps punitive damages at that level. The same jury awarded Amber $2 million. The net result is roughly $8.35 million in damages owed by Amber to Johnny.

Prior to the verdict, we estimated that Amber’s net worth at $2.5 million. According to a number of reports, Amber’s legal costs up to the point of the verdict were largely covered by her homeowners insurance. As of this writing it’s not clear if her insurance would also cover the full damages. It’s also possible that the damages could be reduced on appeal. If her insurance does not cover the damages, it’s our understanding that Amber would struggle mightily to afford the damages.

On the morning of June 2, 2022, the day after the verdict, Amber’s lawyer was asked point blank by Savannah Guthrie of “The Today Show” if Amber could afford to pay the judgement. Amber’s lawyer responded, “Oh no. Absolutely not.

Amber’s next move might be to file an appeal. However, before proceeding with an appeal, Amber may be forced to post a bond for the full $10.35 million judgement, which according to her own lawyer would not be possible with her own personal funds.

Another option if she can not afford the judgment and it is not covered by insurance, would be for Amber to file for bankruptcy. Though, due to a legal framework, it’s possible that a bankruptcy filing would not have any impact on the $10 million compensatory portion of the damages.

Johnny Depp Divorce

In 2016, Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp. She also obtained a restraining order against her former husband and alleged that she had been the victim of domestic abuse during their relationship. Depp immediately denied the accusations in the midst of a media frenzy. After testifying in court and providing evidence for her accusations, Amber Heard received a $7 million settlement from Depp when the divorce was finalized. Amber then vowed to donate the settlement to charity, specifically to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the ACLU.

In January 2021, Johnny claimed that Amber had been lying about donating the money to charity. Depp’s lawyers apparently reached out to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the ACLU to find out how much they had actually received from Heard. According to the Daily Mail, the ACLU refused to turn over the numbers but the Children’s Hospital reported to have only received $100,000, which would be around $3.4 million shy of her allegedly promised donation. The hospital reportedly even reached out to Heard to ask “if the pledge will not be fulfilled”.

In April 2022 court testimony, representatives of the ACLU testified that the organization had received a total of $1.3 million of Amber’s pledged $3.5 million. Though it also was confirmed that Amber had intended the make the donation over a decade. At the same time, testimony revealed that of the $1.3 million, Amber personally provided just $350,000 directly while $100,000 came from Depp and $500 thousand actually came from Elon Musk, another of Amber’s former romantic partners. Another revelation from this period was that when the ACLU followed up on the other half of her pledged donation, Heard reported back that she was having financial difficulties.

Defamation Lawsuits

In 2018 Johnny Depp filed a lawsuit in the United Kingdom against News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun which referred to him as a “wife beater” in an April 2018 article. The lawsuit went to trial in 2020. Both Heard and Depp testified for several days. In November 2020 a judge ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of violence that Heard reportedly claimed to have incurred were “substantially true.” Depp lost an appeal in March 2021.

In 2019 Johnny sued Amber Heard for defamation in Virginia. He sought a settlement of $50 million as a direct response to an op-ed Amber Heard had written for The Washington Post in December 2018 that detailed the alleged abuse she suffered. Although Heard never mentioned Depp by name, he felt that she was heavily implying that he was to blame for various acts of violence – despite earlier, joint statements from the couple stating that “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm” from either partner.

In addition, Depp claimed that he was actually the victim of domestic abuse as a result of Heard’s behavior, which according to him included punching, kicking, thrown objects, and even defecation. Depp’s legal team published evidence of his allegations, and Heard’s attempts to have the case dismissed were denied.

Heard counter-sued in August 2020. The trial for this defamation case commenced on April 11, 2022 in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Defamation Verdict

On June 1, 2022 the jury in the Virginia case found in favor of Depp. Their ruling called for Amber to pay Johnny $15 million in defamation damages, made up of $5 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages. The $5 million punitive damages was immediately reduced to $350,000 due Virginia’s punitive damage cap.

Interestingly, Amber was awarded $2 million in partial liabilities.

According to Eriq Gardner from Puck News, Amber’s legal costs – which have almost certainly cost millions of dollars – have thus-far been covered by her insurance thanks to a homeowners insurance umbrella policy. It’s unclear if her insurance would also be on the hook for the full damages either partially or fully:

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