Johnny Depp has won his libel case against ex-wife Amber Heard, who was found guilty of libel by a jury in Fairfax County, Virginia on June 1.
In his defamation claim, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Heard was also given $2 million in compensatory damages by the jury.
The seven-member jury has just delivered a judgement to the packed courtroom that the Aquaman star did defame the former Pirates of the Caribbean actor with actual malice in a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard wrote about becoming the “public face of domestic abuse.”
Depp sought $50 million in damages, but the jury only gave him $15 million. However, the jury found in favor of Heard on the second count of her $100 countersuit, awarding her $2 million in damages.
After roughly 13 hours of deliberation over three days in the district court in Fairfax, Virginia, a jury of five men and two women reached a decision on Wednesday.
Heard said in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that she was subjected to physical, psychological, mental, and sexual domestic abuse by Depp, whom she did not name. In 2019, the Oscar-nominated actor sued Heard for $50 million, stating that he was the victim of Heard’s abuse and that he had lost big-budget film roles as a result of the lawsuit. Later, the actress from “Aquaman” countersued for $100 million.
In the hit piece, Heard claimed she was a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Depp was not in the courtroom Wednesday when the decision was read out because he had been in the UK touring with friend Jeff Beck until last night. The actor’s representatives announced earlier today that he would be watching the civil case verdict from the United Kingdom. Heard appeared in front of the jurors and Judge Penny Azcarte in the Fairfax County Courthouse with her lawyers.
However, the judgement was delayed somewhat when the court had to send the jury back out because they had neglected to complete the damages section of the form.
During the trial, Johnny Depp claimed that he was denied $22.5 million in compensation for a planned sixth installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, as well as numerous other roles, including reprising his ongoing role in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, which was given to Mads Mikkelsen in the most recent film.
After the judgement was given on Wednesday afternoon, many on social media who had been following the Depp-Heard case attentively were ecstatic, calling the decision the “best possible outcome” on platforms like Reddit.
“Overcome with emotions at the moment! He did it! So proud of him! It has been an honor to fight for truth & justice the past 6 years. Finally, he has received justice!!” one person wrote on Twitter.
Some on Reddit praised the fact that justice is “alive and well.”
The article, which was drafted by the ACLU and published in the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet three and a half years ago, did not identify Depp by name, but the actor maintained it was about him. Depp further alleged that the op-ed in 2018 “devastated” his already fading career. In addition, the former Oscar candidate stated that he was the one who was abused in his relationship with Heard, not the other way around.
Outside the courthouse, Mr. Depp’s fans erupted in applause as each decision was read aloud by the jury.
The star thanked the jury for “giving me my life back” in a statement. Adding, “I am truly humbled.”
Ms. Heard expressed her “heartbreak” following the verdict in a statement.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
She went on to say that the consequence was an attack on free speech.
“I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.”
In 2020, Depp lost a libel case in the United Kingdom against The Sun for referring to him as a “wife beater” in response to Heard’s claims. Given that the threshold for proving libel in the United States is higher than in the United Kingdom, where the defendant bears the burden of proof, the finding in his favor in the Virginia case is surprising. The Sun’s portrayal of Depp was found to be “substantially true” by a British court.
Both performers took the stand and testified over several days, giving emotional testimonies.
Psychiatrists, police officers, Hollywood agents, friends, and relatives were among the dozens of witnesses who testified in the case, including prominent faces such as supermodel Kate Moss and actor Ellen Barkin, as well as psychiatrists, police officers, Hollywood agents, friends, and relatives.