Virginia jury favors Johnny Depp in defamation trial against Amber Heard

Actor Johnny Depp returns to Fairfax County Courthouse after a break during his trial against actress Amber Heard in Fairfax, Va., on April 13. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

June 1 (UPI) — A Virginia jury found both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at least partially liable of defamation Wednesday, but overwhelmingly favored Depp in the awarding of damages.

The jury awarded Depp a total of $15 million in damages — $10 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive. At the close of the hearing, the judge lowered the punitive damages to a statutory $350,000.

The jury also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages to Heard.

Heard said she was disappointed in the jury’s decision.

“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.

“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.”

Depp wasn’t in attendance in the Fairfax County, Va., courtroom as the verdict was read due to a previous work commitment. Heard was present.

The jury deliberated for 14 hours starting Friday after hearing six weeks of testimony.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million after she wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018 saying she was a survivor of domestic abuse. Though she didn’t name Depp as her abuser in the article, Depp argued it’s clear she was referring to him after obtaining a temporary restraining order against him during their 2016 divorce proceedings.

He said her op-ed cost him acting jobs and millions of dollars.

Heard countersued Depp for $100 million after the latter’s lawyer said her abuse allegations were false.

In closing arguments Friday, Depp’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, said Heard abused Depp and staged photos to make it seem as though the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor physically abused her.

Benjamin Rottenborn, Heard’s attorney, said Depp verbally, emotionally and physically abused the “Aquaman” star. He accused Depp’s team of victim-blaming.

In 2020, Depp lost a libel lawsuit against the parent company of The Sun newspaper after the tabloid called him a “wife-beater” in the headline.


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