The jury has reached a decision after a trial of six weeks in Virginia in a case of defamation between Johnny Depp, the actor of Pirates of the Caribbean, and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The decision was taken after about 12 hours over three days. On Wednesday, June 1, the jury awarded Depp over $10 million in damages while also awarding Heard $2 million in damages after finding that her case also had merits.
Depp filed a defamation suit against her ex-wife for $50 million while alleging that in 2018 she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post that hurt his career and damaged his reputation.
In the article, Heard defined herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Although she didn’t mention Depp’s name in the article, his lawyers argued that it was quite evident that she was talking about Depp, given that she had earlier accused him of domestic violence publicly in 2016 during their divorce proceedings.
On the other hand, Heard’s lawyers stated that most of the article focused on public policy on domestic violence, and she had a First Amendment right to talk about that subject. They also said that Depp had abused Heard.
During the trial, Heard described several specific times when she said Depp abused her, adding that he also once assaulted her sexually with a liquor bottle while drunk.
Depp refused all sexual or physical abuse and stated that Heard made the claims by herself to damage his reputation. He also claimed that she had attacked him physically on many occasions.
The jury of seven-member ruled in favour of Depp on every count, discovering that she had undoubtedly acted with actual ill will. The lawyers of Heard told the jury that Depp’s libel claim had to fail if her ex-wife suffered even a single abuse incident.
The verdict was declared on June 1, 2022, at 3 p.m. ET. Amber will have to pay Johnny Depp $10 million in compensatory harms and $5 million in punitive damages for $15 million. As for Amber’s countersuit against Depp, he was found guilty of one count. He will have to pay $2 million in compensatory damages and zero dollars in punitive damages for $2 million.