Johnny Depp wins defamation lawsuit in unanimous verdict, ex-wife Amber Heard ordered to pay $15 million in damages
A Virginia jury found Amber Heard guilty of defaming Johnny Depp, ordering her to pay $15 million in damages on Wednesday.
A jury on Wednesday ruled in favor of Johnny Depp in his libel lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, vindicating his stance that Heard fabricated claims that she was abused by Johnny before and during their brief marriage. In the unanimous decision, the jury ruled that Amber defamed Johnny when she called herself a victim of domestic abuse. Amber has been ordered to pay $15 million in damages. Also read: Johnny Depp-Amber Heard verdict live updates: Johnny Depp wins defamation case, Amber Heard ordered to pay $15 million
The jury also found in favor of Amber, who said she was defamed by Johnny's lawyer when he called her abuse allegations a hoax. Jury members found Johnny Depp should be awarded $15 million in damages, while Amber Heard should receive $2 million.
The verdicts bring an end to a televised trial that the Pirates of the Caribbean star had hoped would help restore his reputation, though it turned into a spectacle of a vicious marriage. Fans--overwhelmingly on Johnny's side--lined up overnight to grab a seat in the courtroom. Spectators who couldn’t get in lined up on the street to cheer him and jeer Amber whenever either appeared outside.
Johnny sued Amber for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers said he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.
While the case was ostensibly about libel, most of the testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, as she claimed. Heard enumerated more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia — where Johnny was shooting a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel — in which Johnny lost the tip of his middle finger and Amber said she was sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle.
Johnny said he never hit Heard and was never out of control when drinking, though Amber's attorneys highlighted text messages Johnny sent to friends recounting the copious amount of alcohol and drugs he had taken at that time. Her attorneys also showed that Johnny sent texts apologizing to Heard for his behavior and wrote profane messages to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Heard and defile her dead body.
In some ways, the trial was a replay of a lawsuit Johnny filed in the United Kingdom against a British tabloid after he was described as a “wife beater.” The judge in that case ruled in the newspaper’s favor after finding that Heard was telling the truth in her descriptions of abuse.
Despite testimony at the trial that he could be violent, abusive and out of control, Johnny received a standing ovation Tuesday night in London after performing for about 40 minutes with Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall. He has previously toured with Joe Perry and Alice Cooper as the group Hollywood Vampires.
(With AP inputs)