UPDATED with lawyers statements: Amber Heard may be forced to fight the $50 million defamation lawsuit brought by her ex-husband Johnny Depp in Virginia after all, but the Aquaman star delivered a one-two punch Friday.
Having lost her attempt to move the matter to California back in July, Heard has filed a new motion to dismiss the wide-ranging complaint by the Pirates of the Caribbean star. The activist actor has also bulked up her legal team with the addition of Time’s Up legal defense fund co-founder Roberta Kaplan.
Simply put, Heard, the author of a 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence and the backlash women often suffer, isn’t messing around.
“It appears that Mr. Depp desperately hopes to put his whole marriage on trial, or to wage
legal warfare over Ms. Heard’s decision to report his abuse in 2016,” asserts a memorandum of law (read it here) accompanying the motions.
“If permitted, that would be an abuse of the legal system and an improper means of dodging the limitations period for defamation claims,” the multi-leveled filing from attorneys at New York’s Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, Virginia’s Woods Rogers PLC and L.A.’s Browne George Ross LLP adds. “But Mr. Depp’s case cannot proceed because it fails to satisfy core requirements of defamation law-and because it imputes to Ms. Heard’s op-ed a series of hidden factual representations that simply are not there.”
“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse,” Heard wrote in December last year in the op-ed that spurred Depp and his advisors in March to drag his ex-wife back into court. “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
“Mr. Depp will soon learn,” Kaplan noted in a statement this morning, “that our courts have strong mechanisms for dismissing baseless claims and determining the truth. Now that we are in this case, we fully intend to put an end to this meritless bullying of our client once and for all.”
To Depp’s team, it is Heard who is baseless when it comes to the truth.
“Amber Heard’s motion to keep evidence secret in the defamation case against her, like her filing with a new legal team seeking again to stop the case and delay more witnesses from testifying, speak eloquently for themselves,” Depp’s chief lawyer Adam Waldman told Deadline today in response to Heard’s latest legal moves.
The pair’s relatively short marriage came to an end in 2016 with a temporary restraining order slapped against Depp over domestic violence claims. That ended in an a $7 million divorce settlement, most of which Heard ultimately donated to charity.
The lawsuit earlier this year by the litigious Depp postulated that the claimed misconduct was actually perpetrated by Heard, then and now, and never by him. Depp and his lawyers additionally claimed Heard’s op-ed in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post tarnished his good name and cost him a place in the planned Pirates reboot – a claim the franchise’s studio Disney never confirmed nor denied — or even said was in the cards, to be honest.
“The fact that Mr. Depp would even try to impose liability for this statement only confirms the startling breadth of his legal theory,” today’s paperwork chides. “While Mr. Depp may believe that everything Ms. Heard says is actually about him, readers blessed with a grasp of English usage and context can readily discern otherwise, especially in a political opinion piece like this one.
“In Mr. Depp’s view, however, Ms. Heard can never speak about the backlash she endured after reporting him, or about the death threats leveled against her, without impliedly re-accusing him of abuse,” the actress’ lawyers conclude in the motion to toss the case that replaces Heard’s previous dismissal effort in April. “That is a patently unreasonable position.”