Celebrity divorces can be complicated. When two stars begin breaking up their assets and airing their grievances in front of a huge public audience, it can get messy. In the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, it can get messy and expensive.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million. What led to this case, and what needs to happen for Depp to win?
What Led Up to The Lawsuit?
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were married in February 2015 and confirmed that they were breaking up in May 2016.
During their breakup, there was a lot of public speculation about the troubled nature of their relationship. There were multiple stories about alleged abuse — one included a broken bottle and Depp losing a piece of his finger. Shortly after filing for divorce, Heard was granted a protective order when she alleged that Depp hit her in the face with a cellphone.
Two years later, in 2018, Heard wrote an essay for The Washington Post detailing her experience with domestic abuse.
She referred to herself as a, “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard’s attorneys say she wrote the essay to highlight legislation to protect domestic abuse survivors. She never mentioned Depp’s name, but due to the publicity around the alleged abuse in their marriage, many assumed the article was about Depp.
The article led to Depp’s $50 million libel lawsuit against Heard and then Heard’s $100 countersuit against Depp.
Why Is Johnny Depp Suing Amber Heard?
Depp says the article ruined his reputation and made it difficult for him to get work. Depp says he was dropped from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise four days after the op-ed was published. He says he was also later removed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Depp filed the defamation lawsuit in Fairfax County, Virginia. The case is being heard in this location because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers in that county.
This case isn’t the first lawsuit that Depp has filed in response to allegations against him. Depp sued Heard for libel in the United Kingdom two years again. The case failed.
He also sued News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, after they published an article calling him a “wife beater” in a 2018. The judge ruled against Depp. They said the paper had presented substantial evidence to show that Depp was violent against Heard on at least 14 occasions.
Depp’s latest libel case against Heard began this week with opening statements and witness testimony, including testimony from Depp.
What Is Libel?
Libel is a type of defamation. Defamation is defined as someone making a false statement about someone’s character to a third party. It is considered libel when the statement is made through writing, such as published in a newspaper, blog, social media, etc. It is considered slander when the statement is made through oral statements.
In Depp’s case, he is alleging defamation through libel because Heard published statements about him in a newspaper.
To win a defamation case, the plaintiff must show:
- There were false statements made by the defendant.
- The false statements were shared publicly.
- Damage or harm was caused to the plaintiff as a result of the statements.
In this civil case, Depp must show that Heard’s statements were false, the statements were shared with the public, and the statements caused him financial damage.
What Happened During the Trial So Far?
The trial started with opening statements. Heard’s attorneys said Depp is seeking revenge. He is abusing alcohol and other substances, and his abuse against Heard was physical, emotional and psychological.
Depp’s legal team is bringing on witnesses to show the other side of these statements. Entertainment Tonight reports witnesses that include: Depp’s sister and personal manager, Christi Dembrowski; Depp’s longtime friend and neighbor, Isaac Baruch; Heard’s former personal assistant, Kate James; Depp’s personal doctor, Dr. David Kipper; and Depp’s nurse, Debbie Lloyd.
The couple’s therapist, Laurel Anderson, also shared video testimony saying the abuse appeared to be “mutual,” but that Heard seemed to fight back as a defense and that Heard showed her bruises in a private session.
Depp took the stand for three hours of testimony in which he said the allegations against him are “not based in any species of truth.”
The trial will continue, and Heard is expected to take the stand in the coming days.
Find an Attorney You Can Trust
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If you are facing a civil or criminal case, talk to experienced attorney, TJ Grimaldi. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to schedule your call with TJ today.