A verdict has been reached in the Depp vs. Heard defamation case.
After deliberating since last Friday, the 7-person jury found in Johnny Depp’s favor. They unanimously ruled there was defamatory conduct on Amber Heard's part, and that she acted with malice and made false statements. They awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages, and $5 million in punitive damages. (Under Virginia law, punitive damages are capped at $350,000, so Depp should get just over $10 million.)
Depp sued his ex-wife for defamation over a Washington Post op-ed she penned in 2018, in which she called herself "a public figure representing domestic abuse." Despite not naming Depp in the article, he sued her for $50 million, claiming that the op-ed resulted in lost movie roles and damaged his career.
During the trial, the 58-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star denied being physically abusive towards the 36-year-old Aquaman actress during their courtship and two-year marriage.
The six-week trial was televised, leading to huge social media speculation as the dramatic details of the pair’s relationship were aired in public. Recorded footage of the couple’s fights, text messages involving family, staff and celebrity friends, and graphic photos of Depp’s bloody finger were presented by both sides at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia.
Heard was in the courtroom on Wednesday when the verdict was read, but Depp was not present. He is currently touring the UK with rocker Jeff Beck.
The jury also awarded Heard a small victory. She had pursued a $100 million counterclaim after Depp’s attorney called her abuse allegations "a hoax." The jury found that Heard’s side had proven one of her counts of defamation and awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages but nothing in punitive damages.
In a statement released immediately after the verdict was read, Depp said, "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 said, "[I'm] 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 out could be publicaly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."
Statement from Amber Heard... pic.twitter.com/RxBeZNhQWz
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) June 1, 2022
Depp previously lost a libel case last year against the British tabloid The Sun, who described him as a “wife beater.” The UK courts ruled that 12 of Heard’s 14 abuse allegations were found to be ‘proved to the civil standard’ on the balance of probability.