If the multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit that Johnny Depp launched against Amber Heard in the spring hasn’t gotten messy enough already, a new ruling could expose a lot of dirty laundry for the Crimes of Grindelwald star and his ex-wife.
Late last week, a Virginia judge agreed with Heard’s attorneys that Depp needs to hand over “relevant medical records” and other material related to his alcohol and drug use. “By November 15, 2019, Plaintiff must produce all non-privileged, responsive documents requested by Defendant’s document requests,” Fairfax County Chief Judge Bruce White ordered on October 18 (read it here) of the motion filed by Heard’s team on September 13 in the $50 million action.
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“Mr. Depp cannot seek to litigate the truth of Ms. Heard’s allegations about his violent and abusive behavior while intoxicated, insist on proceeding without a protective order, and then blithely refuse to produce evidence that confirms the truth of those allegations on grounds of relevance and ‘privacy,’” declared Heard’s Virginia lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn last month in a memorandum that accompanied the now-successful motion to compel.
Earlier in September, having lost an attempt to shift the matter to California, Heard also filed paperwork to have the whole matter dismissed. With Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund co-founder Roberta Kaplan now leading Heard’s legal team, that aspect of the case hasn’t been addressed by the court yet.
Having said in a hearing last month that their client “has nothing to hide” about his past indulgences and actions under the influence, one of Depp’s lawyers Benjamin Chew noted his objection in writing on the October 18 order. However, taking the aggressive attitude that they have in other legal actions the Pirates of the Caribbean alum is engaged in, Team Depp also is saying they will comply with White’s order because it will unveil what really went down in the couple’s short marriage that unraveled in public a few years ago.
“Amber Heard no longer feigns any effort to prove her abuse hoax,” primary Depp attorney Adam Waldman told Deadline in very stark terms, and the Endeavor Law Firm attorney rarely minces his words. “If she wanted to do that, she and her co-conspirators would stop running from their depositions.”
Waldman doubled down: “Instead, Ms. Heard’s #TimesUp legal team have moved on to the tactics their former client Harvey Weinstein perfected – smear the victim with PR innuendo. For the avoidance of doubt, the only person in this case who beat a woman is the self-appointed #MeToo spokesperson Amber Heard, and she was arrested and incarcerated for it. And she savagely beat others, as will be shown at trial.”
Even before he took Heard to court over her December 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence and the backlash women often suffer when they speak out about such situations, Depp was claiming that it was he was the one abused in the relationship. Though he is not actually mentioned by name, Depp and his lawyers have additionally said that the op-ed in the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper tarnished his good name and cost the actor a place in a planned Pirates reboot – a claim the franchise’s studio Disney never confirmed nor denied.
This week Heard’s main lawyer Kaplan took a more measured reaction to the ruling releasing the desired records to her team, in a manner of speaking. “We are very pleased that the Court granted our motion to compel in full,” said Kaplan of the October 18 ruling in the Old Dominion.
“Mr. Depp’s position on discovery in this case has been nonsensical, as if he were the one being sued,” the Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP founding partner with no small amount of snark. “But it is Mr. Depp who started this lawsuit on the theory that Ms. Heard somehow made up all the abuse that forced her to obtain a restraining order against Mr. Depp back in 2016.”
“Now that the facts in his own lawsuit are making him uncomfortable, Mr. Depp wants to hide evidence commonly understood to be connected to incidents of domestic violence: his decades-long abuse of drugs and alcohol, his past history of violence, and medical records showing among other things the laundry list of prescription medications he takes daily and injuries from his drug-induced rages,” the NYC-based Kaplan continued thoroughly. “But that is not how litigation works. Mr. Depp started this fight. Ms. Heard intends to finish it by proving, if necessary, the truth of what really happened.”
Point of fact, Kaplan did do legal work for the much accused Harvey Weinstein as Waldman says. However, the activist attorney was not connected to matters related to the dozens of accusations of sexual assault and harassment over the decades against the producer.
Whether as prestige window dressing or not, Kaplan’s job was to deal with questions around money that Weinstein allegedly moved from a charity to one of his not so successful Broadway efforts – questions that federal prosecutors continue to probe as Weinstein awaits the start of a criminal trial that could see him behind bars for life.
As this defamation case on the East Coast moves deeper into the discovery phase, Depp now has a lien being placed this week on his Golden State properties for over $347,000 by former lawyers who claim that the actor is avoiding paying them for scoring him a big win last year against another former set of lawyers. In that context, Depp also has two trials coming up on this side of the country. With Heard, Elon Musk and others facing depositions in the coming weeks, Depp has a December 2 trial start for his two-year-old, $50 million malpractice lawsuit against his old lawyers at Bloom Hergott.
Looking unlikely to settle, that dust-up will soon be followed on May 11 2020 with a trial on allegations that Depp punched a location manager on the set of yet to released City of Lies.
In his filed complaint of July last year, Gregg “Rocky” Brooks claims he was repeatedly hit by Depp “in the lower left side of his rib cage” after having to inform the actor that filming that night in L.A. was going to have to wrap late. The 10-claim suit, which initially named the now dismissed director Brad Furman and producers Miriam Segal, Good Film Productions, as well as Depp’s Infinitum Nihil, seeks damages for hostile work environment, retaliation, and wrongful termination among the claims.
Triple threat or not, depending on how you look at these latest turns in Depp’s long legal road of the past revealing few years.
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