For six weeks, the country watched as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard fought their way through their side of two defamation lawsuits. The former couple sued each other for millions of dollars, and millions of people watched the trial and verdict unfold on live television.
Now that the verdict has been announced, where does the story go from here?
What Was at Stake?
The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation case was the result of a very public and very tumultuous relationship and break-up. Depp and Heard were often in the public eye as the media reported on their turbulent relationship. Once the couple officially split, they both pointed the finger at the other for the negative media reports.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million dollars in a defamation suit.
In 2018, Heard wrote an editorial for The Washington Post indicating that she was a survivor of domestic violence. Due to the public nature of their relationship, many assumed the article was about Depp, although he was never named in the article. Depp says the story led him to being shunned in Hollywood and removed from movie projects.
Heard countersued Depp for $100 million dollars.
Heard filed a countersuit against Depp, claiming that false statements made by his legal team had led her to also be denied work in the movie industry. Heard alleged that Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman, made three statements about her to The Daily Mail in 2020 that were untrue. In the statements, Waldman told The Daily Mail that Heard’s allegations of abuse were a “hoax.”
To win their defamation cases, Depp and Heard needed to prove three things.
- The statements made about them were false.
- The false statements led to damages.
- The statements were made as an act of malice.
It took seven jurors three days and 13 hours to submit a verdict in the case.
What Was the Verdict?
In a recent post on this blog, we outlined the possible outcomes for the Depp/Heard verdict. But, the ending was something unexpected.
Both parties won a portion of their claims.
Depp was awarded $10.4 million.
The jury unanimously found that Heard could not prove the allegations she made against Depp and that Heard knew her claims were false when she published the essay in The Washington Post. The jury also determined that Heard acted with malice.
While the jury sided with Depp, they did not award him the full $50 million in damages. They awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The judge later decreased the amount of punitive damages to $350,000 to meet the state’s statutory cap.
Heard was awarded $2 million.
The jury also unanimously found that Depp was guilty of defaming Heard on one account. Depp was held liable for the actions of his attorney. The jury decided Waldman’s statements were false and made with malice. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages and $0 in punitive damages.
The verdict in the case is very different from the outcome of a 2020 defamation case that Depp filed against The Sun, a tabloid magazine in the United Kingdom. In that case, a judge found The Sun’s statements calling Depp a “wife beater” to be “substantially true.” Depp failed to receive any damages in the case.
What Happens Next?
The judge has ordered the parties to come back on June 24, 2022, to enter the judgment. Once the judgment is filed, each party will have 30 days to let the other side know if they plan to file an appeal. From that time, the party must file the appeal paperwork within 30 days.
Heard’s Next Moves
Heard’s team has already vowed to appeal the verdict. They have made suggestions of possible grounds for appeal. Heard’s legal team may file an appeal and argue the court’s decisions to:
- Keep some of Heard’s medical records and correspondence from medical professionals out of evidence during the trial.
- Litigate the case in Virginia instead of California where both Depp and Heard reside.
- Allow the trial to be televised and not require a sequestered jury.
Heard’s team is not limited to these options and may include different reasons in their official appeal.
Depp’s Next Moves
At this time, it doesn’t appear that Depp’s team is planning an appeal. If Heard files an appeal, she would still need to post an appeal bond. Deep’s team can begin to seek money from Heard as soon as 22 days after the judgment is filed.
Work with Attorneys You Can Trust
When dealing with legal matters large or small, you must have an attorney you can trust. Always work with an experienced lawyer who can guide your case to the best possible outcome and who can share all of your possible options with you throughout your case.
If you need legal support in either a civil or criminal matter, TJ Grimaldi is here to help. Get a free assessment of your case with TJ. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.