In a libel case launched by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Virginia jurors ruled in his favour on Wednesday.
Each verdict had to be reached by a seven-person civil jury voting unanimously. Over the course of three days, they debated for nearly 12 hours.
Depp had sued Heard for $50 million (€47 million), alleging that in an op-ed for the Washington Post, she defamed him. Depp deserved more than $10 million (€9.3 million) in damages, according to the jury.
The jury, however, found in Heard’s favor on several portions of her $100 million (€93.8 million) counterclaim, which claimed Depp’s lawyer defamed her by calling her abuse allegations a fake. Heard should be awarded $2 million (€1.8 million), according to the verdict.
Heard identified herself as a “public figure symbolizing domestic abuse” in the article, which was published in 2018, but did not mention Depp.
The jury had to assess whether or not two specific sections of the article, as well as the headline, were defamatory. Heard could only be held guilty if it was determined that she knew what she wrote was untrue because Depp is a public figure.
The case should be dismissed if Heard was subjected to even one incidence of abuse, according to Heard’s lawyers.
Depp, who has appeared in blockbuster films such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” flicks and the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, claimed that he never struck Heard or any other woman and that Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.”
Heard’s lawyers have contended that she expressed the truth and that her viewpoint was protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
“I got my life back” thanks to the jury.
Depp stated in a statement on Wednesday that the jury “given me my life back” and thanked everyone for their “outpouring of love” and support.
The charges against him, according to the actor, sparked “an endless bombardment of hostile information” that had a “seismic” effect on his life and career.
“I hope that my effort to get the truth spoken has aided others, men and women, who have found themselves in my circumstance, and that those who support them never give up,” he concluded in his statement.”
“The best is yet to come,” he stated, adding that “a new chapter has finally begun.”
Amber Heard expressed her “beyond words” disappointment following the decision.
“I’m heartbroken that my ex-excessive husband’s power, influence, and sway were not enough to overcome the weight of evidence.” “In a statement, she said:
“I’m even more disappointed by the implications of this decision for other women,” she continued.
“It’s a setback,” said the narrator. It reverts to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out was publicly embarrassed and humiliated. It undercuts the notion that women’s violence should be taken seriously.”
How can both sides be held accountable for libel?
All three of Depp’s claims relating to specific statements in a 2018 article written by Heard were determined to be valid by the jury.
Three statements by one of Depp’s lawyers, who termed Heard’s allegations a fraud, were reviewed by jurors in assessing her counterclaims. They discovered that one of them had defamed her, claiming that she and her pals had “spilled a little wine and roughed up the place, got their tales straight,” and had phoned the cops.
“According to Brent Ward, a family law attorney in New York, “the finding was that both of them were culpable for defamation.”
Depp was given $10.35 million by the jury, with $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. However, the court noted state law bars punitive damages at $350,000, so Depp was only paid $10.35 million.
“And she [Amber Heard] was given $2 million for her defamation allegations, which mostly concern Johnny Depp’s lawyer and activities taken on Johnny’s behalf.” “Ward went on to say that
The judgement confirmed that the allegations against Depp were “defamatory and unsubstantiated by any proof,” according to Depp’s attorneys.
During the six-week trial, which was seen by millions across the world, both sides were accused of domestic abuse.
During the trial, both parties testified extensively, detailing their tumultuous marriage in great detail.
Depp said in his evidence that charges of his substance misuse made by Heard and her team were exaggerated.
Instead, the actor accused Heard of abusing him, alleging that he damaged his finger after Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him.
He also spoke about his tumultuous youth and his mother’s abusive relationship.
Heard denied harming Depp’s finger with the vodka bottle during her turn on the stand, claiming that while she did crush a bottle, she was unaware of his injuries until afterward. Depp allegedly assaulted her with a liquor bottle that night, according to her.
Depp’s drug and alcohol use, as well as charges of sexual assault and physical abuse, were all mentioned in Heard’s evidence.
Depp has previously brought a libel claim in the United Kingdom against the British newspaper The Sun over an article calling him a “wife-beater,” but that case was dismissed in November 2020.