Amber Heard Appeals $10M Johnny Depp Defamation Suit Hit

Amber Heard’s lawyers warn that her loss with have of a “chilling effect” on women who are abused by powerful, prominent men

Amber Heard is appealing the $10.35 million verdict she was slammed with in the dueling defamation case trial she mostly lost against her ex-husband, Pirates of the Caribbean star and noted wine lover Johnny Depp.

As Deadline reports, Heard’s new attorneys, Jay Ward Brown and David Axelrod of D.C.-based Ballard Spahr LLP, warned of a “chilling effect” for women who want to fight “powerful” men who abuse them.

Depp, as it now so well known, sued Heard in bucolic Fairfax County, Virginia for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she penned, and in which she accused him of abuse. Heard returned fire with a $100 million defamation hit against Depp, essentially claiming he defamed her by calling her a liar for making the allegations.

In the appeal filed on November 23rd, Heard’s lawyers argue, for one thing, that case should have been tossed before it began because Depp sued in the wrong place, seeing as they both were living in L.A. at the time of the ruckus.

“The trial court erroneously refused to dismiss this action… based on its mistaken conclusion that Depp’s claims arose in Virginia because the Washington Post’s servers are located here,” Heard’s new legal duo stated.

Additionally, the jury’s decision ran afoul of Heard’s First Amendment protections, the attorneys wrote. “The trial court also erred in overruling Heard’s demurrer, in which she argued that the challenged statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the alleged defamatory implication. That holding, if allowed to stand, undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men.”

Heard & Co. are asking the court to either vacate the $10.35 judgement she owes or, if it must, to grant her an entirely new trial. (Surely, the latter would be madness, but we could live with that.)

The attorneys further scold: “This case also should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions.”

What’s more: “After Depp filed this case, the United Kingdom High Court of Justice ruled in a separate defamation action brought by Depp that Heard’s abuse allegations were true.” That is a reference to the failed libel suit that Depp brought against Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun in 2018 for calling him a “wife-beater” in print.

“The trial court should have given preclusive effect to that 129-page decision, which followed a three-week trial at which Depp, Heard, and 24 other witnesses testified,” the Drive Angry starlet’s counsel say in their filing.

Last month, Depp appealed the $2 million judgement awarded to Heard in the trial, with his attorneys calling it “erroneous.” The judgement favoring Heard is in regard to the so-called “Waldman Statements“—which are a series of remarks that Depp’s then-lawyer, Adam Walkman, made after Heard published that WaPo op-ed describing herself as a victim of domestic abuse. Waldman called Heard’s allegations an “abuse hoax” and an “ambush” planned by Heard and her friends.

Depp’s lawyers contend in his appeal that Waldman was not acting in “actual malice” but, really, whoever is?

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