Depp Trial: Johnny Gets $15 Million, Amber Gets $2M and Everyone Lost

The actor won all three counts of defamation while the jury only found one of Heard’s countersuit statements to be defamatory
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The seven jurors in the spectacular legal dance of death between Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard over their respective $50 million and $100 million dueling lawsuits reached a verdict in lovely Fairfax County, Virginia Wednesday and everyone got pretty much what they deserved.

Depp won all three counts of defamation for statements that his ex-wife Amber Heard made in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed where she described herself as a survivor of domestic abuse. The jury found the statements to be defamatory and that they were made with actual malice. Actual malice is a legal requirement meaning that public figures must prove a higher standard when they file libel suits.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million—$10 million in compensatory damages, and $5 million in punitive damages. (Depp will only receive $350,000 of the $5 million in punitive damages according to a Virginia law that says punitive damages can’t exceed $350,000, according to the Washington Post).

Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million for three statements made by Depp’s former lawyer, Adam Waldman, including calling Heard’s allegations an “abuse hoax.”

The jury found one statement made by Waldman, acting as an agent of Depp’s, to be defamatory and made with actual malice.

That statement, one of three made to the Daily Mail, was, “Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops, but the first attempt didn’t do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property.”

Heard was awarded compensatory damages of $2 million.

Heard was at the courtroom to hear the results; Depp was not. He opted to stay in the U.K., where flew out immediately after last Friday’s closing arguments to play two surprise shows with Jeff Beck.

“This is a court of law,” said Judge Penney Azcarate promptly at 3 p.m. “I will not tolerate any outbursts whatsoever.”

However, upon receiving the form from the jurors, Azcarate found that they hadn’t filled out the damages section, and sent them back to the deliberation room. They returned the verdict 20 minutes later.

Heard, wearing a black dress, nervously played with her hair while waiting for the verdict.

Outside after the verdict was read, a crowd of fans broke into a chant of, “JOHN-NY! JOHN-NY!”

Both Depp and Heard immediately released statements after the verdict was handed down.

Depp’s statement, posted to Instagram, read in part, “The goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained stedfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” said Heard in a statement. “I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.”


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