Johnny Depp wins US libel lawsuit against former wife Amber Heard
Johnny Depp has won his defamation case against Amber Heard as she was ordered to pay the actor $15m in damages.
But the jury also awarded Ms Heard $2m for one part of her own counterclaim, that Mr Depp’s lawyer had called her abuse allegations against her ex-husband a hoax.
The jury of five men and two women returned its verdict on Wednesday after nearly 13 hours of deliberation spread over three days at the district court in Fairfax, Virginia.
But the reading of the verdict was dramatically delayed as the judge had to send the jury back out as they had failed to fill out the damages section of the form.
Mr Depp was not in court for the verdict but watched it on TV from the United Kingdom, where he is working and was spotted in a pub in Newcastle. Ms Heard was present for the reading of the verdict.
Fans of Mr Depp cheered wildly outside the courthouse as each verdict was returned by the jury.
Following the verdict, Ms Heard released a statement that she was “heartbroken.”
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
And she added that the result was an attack on Freedom of Speech.
“I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.”
Mr Depp sued his ex-wife Ms Heard for $50m claiming she defamed him in an op-ed for The Washington Post where she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse.
The $5m punitive section of the damages awarded to Mr Depp will be capped under Virginia law to $350,000.
Ms Heard countersued her former husband for $100m claiming he launched a “smear campaign” against her.
Over the six-week trial beginning on 11 April, the court heard both Mr Depp and Ms Heard accuse each other of abuse and give vastly different accounts of particularly violent incidents during their relationship. Additional reporting by UK Independent