Just more than a month before they were set to go to trial, Johnny Depp and his former lawyers settled the $50 million malpractice suit the Pirates of the Caribbean star launched in 2017. This comes as a $50 million defamation suit between Depp and Amber Heard heats up on the West Coast.
“The former law firm of Bloom Hergott, with the help of its insurance carrier, has favorably settled the litigation with Johnny Depp for a fraction of his original demand,” lawyer Bryan Freedman said Wednesday of the battle that was set for a December 2 trial start. “While the firm was confident it would prevail at trial, we are nonetheless pleased with this resolution as it expedites the firm’s winding down process and allows it to get off the endless Johnny Depp litigation train.”
Depp’s side has a rather different take on the conclusion to what has been a pitched battle that also saw Jacob Bloom, one of Hollywood’s most venerated entertainment lawyers, announce his retirement earlier this year.
“The law firm formerly known as Bloom Hergott, sued by Johnny Depp for a multi-decade fraud and malfeasance spree, and after losing a landmark 6147 ruling, avoided the shame of evidence in a public trial by paying Mr Depp an eight-figure settlement.,” Adam Waldman, Depp’s primary attorney for the past two years, told Deadline. “They are correct that eight figures is a fraction of nine figures.”
Though the exact terms are confidential, Depp’s payout was around $10 million in the end, I hear.
Unsurprisingly in this instance, as the two sides were trying to work out a deal, depositions and discovery in the matter had been continuing. After all the twists in this case up to this point, both parties were hedging their bets on whether a settlement could be reached before the long-delayed trial kicked off. Paperwork formally seeking to have the case dismissed is expected to be filed in the next week or so in Los Angeles Superior Court in an action that was initially a spillover of Depp’s now-settled $25 million lawsuit against TMG, his former business manager.
Hit with a counter-complaint in December 2017 by the firm that represented him for two decades after he sued them a couple of months before, Depp scored a somewhat shocking win in the case on August 28 last year. On that scorching day, literally and figuratively, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green sent a lightening bolt through Hollywood when he granted Depp’s motion to declare invalid the longtime and lucrative oral contingency agreement the actor had with Bloom’s firm.
Yet, as one door closes in the saga of Depp’s increasingly successful lawsuits, another opens further, so to speak.
Heading towards a trial starting in February 2020, Depp’s ever-revelatory multimillion-dollar defamation suit against his ex-wife Heard has now spread to Los Angeles Superior Court from Virginia. In filings late Tuesday, the Aquaman star aims to get her ex-husband’s former business managers to hand over documents Heard’s legal team claim damningly peel back the skin on “payments on Mr. Depp’s behalf to conceal acts of violence,” “drug and alcohol abuse” and “Incidents of violence by Mr. Depp.”
“TMG was Mr. Depp’s longstanding business management firm from 1999 until they parted ways in 2016 amid a bitter dispute,” reads a memorandum (read it here) to enforce a discovery subpoena against The Management Group filed by Heard’s attorneys at L.A.’s Susman Godfrey LLP and NYC’s Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.
“Of particular relevance here, by its own account, TMG was aware that Mr. Depp had violently abused Ms. Heard and that he had pressured his employees to make false public statements denying this fact,” the filing for the Virginia-set defamation suit adds, noting the messy $25 million fraud and breach of contract action Depp filed against TMG in January 2017 and the extremely detailed cross-complaint that soon followed.
“TMG also paid millions of dollars to various members of Mr. Depp’s staff, many of whom will be witnesses in the Underlying Lawsuit, as well as millions of dollars to ‘bail [Mr. Depp] out of numerous legal crises’ and ‘mak[e] a series of hush money settlements,'” Heard’s team states, quoting from the actual TMG cross-complaint filed by Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP.
Having been after TMG for the documents in question for almost two months, Heard’s latest West Coast legal reach comes as Fairfax County Chief Judge Bruce White ordered Depp on October 18 to deliver “relevant medical records” and other material related to his alcohol and drug use to his ex-wife’s defense team by November 15, 2019.
Over six months after Depp first sued Heard in March over a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed addressing domestic violence and the backlash women often suffer, Depp’s team made a point of objecting to the order but agreed to comply — though not without throwing a few grenades at Heard and her lawyers with phrases like “abuse hoax.”
“In short, the TMG Lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed in August 2018, involved allegations and evidence of Mr. Depp’s abuse of Ms. Heard, as well as information about individuals with knowledge of that abuse and Mr. Depp’s efforts to cover it up,” says the 19-page filing, which essentially seeks to dispense Tinseltown-based TMG and lawyer Michael Kump’s basic notion that the requested documents are sealed under their own settlement with Depp and “would be burdensome for TMG to produce.”
Reps for TMG and their lawyers did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on the new filing. The weak irony is that Depp’s side appears indifferent over whether TMG releases the information. They don’t “have a dog in this fight,” according to Heard’s filing, quoting one of Depp’s attorneys on an October 2 conference call.
The battle between Depp and Heard has flared up repeatedly since their short marriage blew up in public three years ago with a temporary restraining order against Depp and later a $7 million settlement, which Heard donated to charity.
As the defamation suit moves towards its 2020 trial date, Depp late last year had dragged Heard and others like her ex-boyfriend Elon Musk into the two-year-old, $50 million malpractice lawsuit against his old lawyers at Bloom Hergott — a case that is now over, apparently.
Of course, after a very busy three years in the courts, not all of Depp’s legal issues are over. The actor is expected to take the stand around on May 11 2020 with a trial over allegations he punched a location manager on the set of City of Lies.
In a filed complaint of July last year, Gregg “Rocky” Brooks says 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. would 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 – unless it settles.