Johnny Depp has prevailed in his $50m (£40m) defamation lawsuit in opposition to his ex-wife Amber Heard over accusations of home abuse.
A seven-person civil jury in Virginia discovered that Ms Heard defamed the Pirates of the Caribbean and Implausible Beasts star when she implied he abused her in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Put up.
The jury additionally upheld one among Ms Heard’s three claims in a $100m countersuit in opposition to Mr Depp and his lawyer, who had known as her authentic allegations in 2016 an “ambush” and “a hoax”.
Neither aspect, nonetheless, obtained the total quantity of damages they have been in search of.
How a lot cash have been Depp and Heard awarded?
Depp was awarded compensatory damages of $10m and punitive damages of $5m by the jury, in comparison with the $50 million sought by his legal professionals.
Ms Heard was awarded compensatory damages of $2m and no punitive damages, in comparison with the $100m requested by her countersuit.
Since Virginia regulation limits punitive damages to $350,000, the actress is liable to pay Mr Depp a complete of $10.35m.
Altogether, that leaves Mr Depp with $8.35m from the trial, though it’s unclear who will probably be ordered to pay whose authorized prices.
Neither occasion’s damages could be prevented as a result of chapter, which Mr Depp reportedly got here near in 2009.
The place does this end result go away each events?
Dan Abrams, founding father of the trial information community Legislation and Crime, described the end result as “an actual shock” and “a complete loss for Amber Heard”, arguing that the $2m awarded to her was “actually a token win”.
He stated: “It appears to me that the takeaway from this case is, these jurors believed Johnny Depp and so they didn’t consider Amber Heard. I dont suppose there may be another method to interpret all of those verdicts collectively.”
The decision stood in distinction with one other, comparable case within the UK, wherein Mr Depp unsuccessfully sued The Solar for calling him a “spouse beater”. His enchantment was rejected in March 2021.
Regardless that British defamation regulation is historically kinder to the aggrieved occasion than within the US, a decide discovered that the newspaper had proved its article was “considerably true” and that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of home violence had certainly occurred.
To complicate issues, Depp beforehand paid Heard $7 million as a part of the divorce settlement they finalised in 2017. Although Heard publicly pledged to donate this to charity, she testified within the trial that she had been unable to complete doing so because of the trial, which she stated price her “over $6 million” in authorized charges.
A spokesperson for Ms Heard informed The New York Instances that she plans to enchantment the end result.
Why have been the damages so excessive?
The quantity awarded to Mr Depp displays the jury’s perception that Ms Heard acted with “precise malice”, which means that she both knew her claims have been false or that she acted with “reckless disregard for the reality” when she wrote her op-ed and “republished” it by retweeting it on Twitter.
The op-ed didn’t title Mr Depp, however Ms Heard had already publicly accused him of home violence two years earlier. Therefore, legal professionals for Mr Depp argued that she was clearly referencing him.
Earlier than the decision, the decide instructed the jury to decide on a degree of compensatory damages that may “pretty compensate” plaintiffs for monetary losses as a result of defamatory statements, injury to their enterprise, damage to their repute, and “any ache, embarrassment, humiliation, or psychological struggling”.
They have been informed to award punitive damages on high of this provided that they believed that Heard’s statements, or these of Depp’s lawyer, have been knowingly false or made “so recklessly as to quantity to a willful disregard for the reality” – which means the audio system had “a excessive diploma of consciousness that the statements have been in all probability false”.
Evidently, the jury believed that at the least one among Heard’s statements justified that punitive damages, whereas solely one among Depp’s lawyer’s statements cleared the decrease bar for compensatory damages.
What have been the statements at concern?
Heard first accused Depp of abusing her in 2016, when she filed for divorce and obtained a short lived restraining order in opposition to him.
“Through the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and bodily abusive to me. I endured extreme emotional, verbal and bodily abuse from Johnny, which has included offended, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me every time I questioned his authority or disagreed with him,” she stated on the time.
After their divorce settlement, they launched a joint assertion saying: “Neither occasion has made false accusations for monetary achieve. There was by no means any intent of bodily or emotional hurt.”
In 2018, although, Heard wrote an op-ed about sexual violence wherein she recognized herself as a survivor. Depp’s lawsuit took goal at three sections of that op-ed, which he argued have been false and defamatory.
The primary was the headline, which Heard didn’t write, and which learn: “I spoke up about sexual violence – and confronted our tradition’s wrath”. The second was her declare that “two years in the past, I turned a public determine representing home abuse, and I felt the total power of our tradition’s wrath for girls who converse out.”
The third half learn: “I had the uncommon vantage level of seeing, in actual time, how establishments shield males accused of abuse.”
In response to the decide’s directions, the jury needed to consider not solely that every one three of those claims have been false, however that they’d be learn by others as referring to Depp, that they have been “designed and supposed” by Heard to defame him, and that she made them with precise malice.
Heard’s countersuit, in the meantime, involved three statements from Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman. Within the first, he accused “Heard and her buddies within the media” of “us[ing] pretend sexual violent allegations as each a sword and a protect”.
Within the second, he claimed Heard and her buddies had intentionally “set Mr Depp up” by fabricating injury to their house, coordinating their tales collectively, after which making a false emergency name. Within the third, he referred to Heard’s allegations as an “abuse hoax”.
The jury determined that solely the second declare fulfilled all the standards for defamation, which means it was each false and made with precise malice.
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