Johnny Depp has sued ex-wife Amber Heard for $50m (£40m) over domestic abuse charges.
A seven-member civil jury in Virginia finds Ms. Hurd defamed Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts became a star when she suggested he abused her in a 2018 op-ed Washington post.
The jury also upheld one of three claims by Ms. Hurd in a $100 million countersuit against Mr. Depp and his lawyers, who called her original charges in 2016 an “ambush” and a “scam.”
However, neither side received the full compensation they sought.
How much did Depp and Heard get paid?
The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, while his attorneys sought $50 million.
Ms. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and no punitive damages, compared with the $100 million her counterclaim sought.
Because Virginia law limits punitive damages to $350,000, the actress is liable to pay Mr. Depp a total of $10.35 million.
All told, this nets Mr. Depp $8.35 million from the trial, although it is unclear who will be asked to pay whom in legal costs.
Losses on either side are inevitable due to bankruptcy, and Mr Depp reportedly came close to bankruptcy in 2009.
How does this result affect both parties?
Trial News Network founder Dan Abrams law and crime, Describing the results as a “real surprise” and a “total loss for Amber Heard”, he said the $2 million awarded to her was “truly a symbolic victory”.
He said: “It seems to me that the conclusion from this case is that these jurors believed in Johnny Depp, but they did not believe in Amber Heard. I don’t think there is any other way to combine all of this The verdict will be interpreted together.”
The verdict stands in stark contrast to another similar case in the UK, in which Mr Depp failed to prosecute sun Call him a “wife beater”. His appeal was dismissed in March 2021.
While UK defamation laws have traditionally been more victim-friendly than the US, a judge found the paper had proven its articles were “substantially true” and that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence did occur.
To complicate matters, Depp previously paid Hurd $7 million as part of a divorce settlement they hammered out in 2017. Although Hurd publicly pledged to donate the money to charity, she testified at the trial that she was unable to complete the donation due to the trial, which she said cost her “over $6 million” in legal fees.
A spokesman for Ms Heard told New York Times She plans to appeal the results.
Why is the loss so high?
The amount awarded to Mr Depp reflects the jury’s belief that Ms Heard’s actions were of “genuine malice”, meaning she either knew her claims were false, or she wrote the op-ed and “passed” Retweet it on Twitter to repost it.
The column did not name Mr Depp, but two years ago Ms Hurd had publicly accused him of domestic violence. So Mr Depp’s lawyer argued that she was clearly citing him.
Before the verdict, the judge directed the jury to select a level of compensatory damages to “equitably compensate” the plaintiff for defamatory speech, business damage, reputational damage and “any pain, embarrassment, humiliation, or emotional distress.”
They were told punitive damages would only be awarded if they believed either Heard’s statement or that of Depp’s lawyers to be willfully false or “so reckless as to knowingly disregard the truth” – meaning the speaker was “highly aware of the truth” These statements may be false”.
Apparently, the jury found that at least one of Hurd’s statements justified punitive damages, while Depp’s attorneys had only one statement that cleared the lower standard of compensatory damages.
What is the disputed statement?
Heard first accused Depp of abusing her in 2016, when she filed for divorce and obtained a temporary restraining order against him.
“Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me throughout our relationship. I have endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse by Johnny, which included being rude to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him. I carried out angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening attacks,” she said at the time.
Following the divorce settlement, the pair issued a joint statement saying: “Neither party has made false accusations of financial gain. There was never any intention of physical or emotional harm.”
However, in 2018, Hurd wrote an op-ed about sexual violence in which she claimed to be a survivor. Depp’s lawsuit targets three sections of the column, which he believes are false and defamatory.
The first was the headline, which Hurd didn’t write, which read: “I Talk About Sexual Violence — And Confronting Our Culture’s Outrage”. The second is her claim that “two years ago, when I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, I felt the full force of our culture’s outrage against women who speak out.”
The third part reads: “I have a rare vantage point to see in real time how agencies are protecting people accused of abuse.”
Not only would the jury have to believe that all three claims were false, but they would be interpreted by others as referring to Depp, who were “designed and intended” by Heard to defame him, and that she used True malice created them.
Meanwhile, Hurd’s counterclaim involves three statements from Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman.First, he accused “Hurd and her friends in the media” of “we[ing] False allegations of sexual violence are both a sword and a shield.”
In the second, he claimed that Heard and her friends deliberately “framed Mr. Depp” by fabricating the destruction of their home, coordinating their stories and then making a fake emergency call. In the third, he called Hurd’s allegations “abusive hoax.”
The jury found that only the second claim met all the criteria for defamation, meaning it was both false and made with genuine malice.