Johnny Depp won a defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard on Wednesday. A jury found that Heard hurt Depp’s reputation by saying that he abused her while they were married.
Depp was supposed to be in court on Wednesday, but he had another commitment. Instead, he filed a lawsuit for $50 million in damages after Heard said in a 2018 opinion-editorial column in the Washington Post that she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Even though Depp’s name wasn’t in the essay, his lawyers say it was about the things she said about him when they split up in 2016.
The jury all agreed that Heard couldn’t prove her claims against Depp, and she knew her abuse claims were false when she wrote her essay in 2018.
The jury decided that Heard really meant to hurt people when she wrote her opinion piece. In Johnny Depp’s lawsuit for defamation, the jury gave him $10 million in “compensatory damages” and $5 million in “punitive damages.”
“The whole point of bringing this case was to find out the truth from the start, no matter what the outcome,” Depp said in a statement on Wednesday. “Telling the truth was something I owed to my kids and to everyone who has stuck by me through thick and thin. I’m at peace with myself now that I’ve done that.”
“The jury gave me my life back,” Depp said. I feel very low.”
Heard sued Depp back for $100 million, saying that she had only hit Depp when she had to defend herself or protect her younger sister. Heard’s countersuit was based on three statements Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman made to the Daily Mail in 2020, in which he called Heard’s claims of abuse a “hoax.”
On one count, the jury said that Depp hurt Heard’s reputation by talking about her to Waldman. Heard got $2 million in “compensatory damages,” but the jury didn’t punish him in any way.
The panel began talking about the case on Friday and came to a decision after almost 13 hours of talking over three days. The high-profile trial, which took place in Fairfax County, Virginia, and lasted about six weeks, was shown all over the country and got a lot of attention.
In the United States, defamation cases brought by well-known people, like actors, are often thought to be hard to win because the plaintiff must meet a higher standard.
During the weeks-long trial in Fairfax, Virginia, Depp’s lawyers tried to show that he was the victim of domestic abuse by using tapes and text messages as proof. When Heard got violent, Depp’s sister, best friend, former coworkers, and a doctor all said that the actor would often hide from her.
Heard is said to have cut Depp’s finger when she threw a vodka bottle at him on a flight to Australia. (Heard’s lawyer said that Depp cut his finger.) Lawyers also played audiotapes of Depp where Heard said she had thrown pots and pans at him. In another recording, Heard said that she hit Depp but didn’t punch him.
Amber Heard called the verdict in the defamation suit a “setback” when she heard about it.
Heard said that the decision was “a setback” for women. “I can’t even describe how sad I feel today. She said in a statement, “I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence wasn’t enough to stand up to my ex-disproportionate husband’s power, influence, and sway.”
“What this verdict means for other women makes me feel even worse. It’s not good… It makes people less likely to think that violence against women is important,” she said.
During the trial, many people testified, including bodyguards, Hollywood executives, agents, experts in the entertainment business, doctors, friends, and family.
A #JusticeForJohnnyDepp social media campaign helped get a lot of fans of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor to the broadcast trial. During the days that the trial was on TV, both Depp and Heard testified.