The defamation case between Hollywood stars and former spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is over. Depp sued Heard for $50 million, claiming that an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse” sullied his reputation and cost him millions of dollars. Heard later countersued Depp for $100 million, saying her reputation was ruined when his side described her accusations as a “hoax.”
The seven jurors in the case ultimately found defamation on both sides of the case. They decided that Heard had defamed Depp on all three counts that were being considered in the case, and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. But they also found that Heard’s side had proven one of her counts of defamation, specifically the one where an attorney for Depp called her accusations a hoax, and awarded her $2 million in damages.
The jury began deliberating in the afternoon of Friday, May 27, and only resumed yesterday following the three-day weekend — meaning after a trial that stretched across a month and a half, the jurors needed less than two days to reach their decision. The reading of the verdict was briefly delayed because jurors had failed to fill out the damages portion of the forms they submit to the court.
In a statement, Depp wrote “from the very beginning, 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 steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.” In her own statement, Heard wrote “ I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech.”
The trial, which was held in Fairfax County, Virginia, began back in mid-April and has dominated entertainment world headlines since then. Depp and Heard were first married in February 2015; Heard filed for divorce in May of 2016. Amidst the allegations on both sides, there were also surprising revelations about the inner workings of Hollywood, as when Depp’s agent claimed he lost out on $22.5 million when a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean movie was canceled in the wake of the controversy surrounding the couple’s marriage and breakup. Heard later claimed that her role in the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was impacted (and severely cut down because of the furor around Depp and Heard’s various lawsuits against one another.
It’s unclear yet whether Heard or Depp will appeal the respective verdicts.
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