UPDATE, 9:20 AM: Johnny Depp is “pleased” with the end of his long defamation clash with Amber Heard and the settlement between the former married couple.
In a statement sent to Deadline soon after Heard revealed a deal between the two, Depp said he plans to donate the $1 million paid by Heard (as revealed by Deadline earlier this morning; see below) to various charities. Depp’s lawyers Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez also said their client’s “priority was about bringing the truth to light” (read their statement below).
While no formal paperwork appears to have been filed in the Virginia court dockets, it appears that the agreement between Depp and Heard ends both parties’ appeals claims. Despite Heard’s assertion to the contrary, it also appears that the judgment delivered against the actress by a Virginia jury on June 1 still stands and could be enforced if she publicly repeated the same statements of alleged defamation against Depp that her ex-husband initially sued over in March 2019.
Here’s the Depp statement:
“We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light. The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1M – which Mr. Depp is pledging and will (actually) donate to charities – reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”
PREVIOUSLY, 7:50 AM: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s long legal battle appears to be over.
In a lengthy post on social media Monday morning, the Aquaman star revealed her “very difficult” decision made with “a great deal of deliberation” to settle the defamation suit with her ex-husband. “I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder,” Heard went on to say, noting that she had “exhausted almost all my resources” before and during the Virginia set trial this past spring.
“Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon.”
In her Instagram post (read it below), Heard also said that the agreement provided “an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.” She went on to write: “I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
Today’s announcement comes less than a month after Heard and her new legal team launched a formal appeal of the June 1 verdict that found heavily against her in a Virginia court. Following weeks of bitter and often lurid testimony by both parties, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages by the panel. Before releasing the Fairfax County jury, Judge Penny Azcarate reduced the punitive damages figure to $350,000, the maximum allowed in the state. Bizarrely, while handing Heard a stunning loss, the jurors also gave her $2 million counterclaim award.
That counterclaim award and the First Amendment proved the potential wedge by which Heard’s constitutional-law specialists Ballard Spahr LLP attorneys hoped to succeed in an appeal. Complicating matter, part of the requirements of an appeal in Virginia is that Heard would have to pay an $8.35 million bond with 6% interest per year before she could move forward. Money, from all indications, the actress did not have, a well place source tells Deadline.
There was no details Monday on the specifics of the settlement, or whether it affected Depp’s own November 3-filed appeal over that counterclaim award. However, Heard did make a proportional payout to her former Rum Diary co-star in the realm of $1 million, I hear. Depp himself has not responded publicly today, and so far reps for the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean actor did not respond to request for comment on the settlement or any payment.
Amidst a series of legal actions, Depp sued his ex-wife Heard in March 2019 for $50 million over a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed under Heard’s byline.
In the article, the American Civil Liberties Union ambassador spoke about becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” While Heard never mentioned the one-time Oscar nominee by name in the piece in the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet, Depp insisted the op-ed “devastated” his career. Under what are now characterized as the orders of publicists and lawyers at the time, Depp was silent during the pair’s restraining order-loaded 2016 divorce. However, in his filings and repeatedly on the stand during the media-saturated Virginia trial earlier this year, Depp declared he was in fact the one who was abused in the couple’s relationship.
Repeatedly failing to get the matter dismissed or moved to another jurisdiction, Heard countersued Depp for $100 million in the summer of 2020. That came months before Depp’s UK libel case against the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” proved a dramatic flameout in November 2020. – a “vindicated” result Heard noted in her statement today.
Dealing with an ongoing legal skirmish among her insurance companies over paying for her defense and more, a self-declared “stateless” Heard also proved unsuccessful in her initial attempts this fall to have the Virginia verdict overturned or tossed out.
Now it is over. It seems.
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