As a public figure, Johnny Depp faced a high bar to win a libel lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. According to seven unanimous jurors, he distinguished himself.
Depp said his ex-wife slandered him in a 2018 newspaper in which she hinted at abuse of charge against Depp. His name was never called.
The Virginia Civil Court ruled in Depp’s favor on all three counts on Wednesday, finding Hurd not only making false and defamatory statements, but also that she did so with “genuine malice” – a higher threshold for public affairs cases. . . The jury concluded that Depp should receive more than $ 10 million.
However, Depp’s victory was not absolute. The jury also concluded that part of Hurd’s counterclaim was well-founded. They dismissed two of Hurd’s three charges, but found that Depp’s lawyer disgraced her, accusing her of robbing their apartment to look worse for police. The jury awarded her $ 2 million.
A look at each of the jurors considered:
THE FIRST THING IS SURAT HEARING
The jury pondered whether Depp was a slanderous headline on the Internet in The Washington Post: “I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. That must change. “
Hurd’s lawyers claimed she did not write the title.
But the jury concluded that Hurd “made or published” it and that it was defamatory.
THE SECOND THING IS SURAT HEARD
The jury reviewed the third paragraph of the article: “Then, two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and felt the full force of our culture’s anger at women who speak out.”
Depp’s lawyers said it clearly refers to Depp, given that Hurd publicly accused him of domestic violence in 2016.
Hurd’s lawyers said there was plenty of evidence that Hurd had been abused many times, and that just one case of proven abuse would have made the line non-defamatory. They also argued that the statement was objectively true because it focused not on Depp but on Hurd’s experience of speaking.
The jury disagreed, calling the statement defamatory.
THE THIRD THING IS SURAT HEARD
In the second passage in the article, Hurd wrote, “I have had a rare opportunity to see in real time how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Depp’s lawyers reiterated that this clearly refers to Depp.
And, as with the other two charges, the jury found Hurd defaming Depp with “genuine malice” – there was clear and convincing evidence that Hurd either knew it was false or acted recklessly in disregard of the truth.
FIRST CALCULATION AGAINST DEP
Hurd has filed three defamation charges against Depp, saying she was repeatedly slandered by his former lawyer Adam Waldman, who called Hurd’s accusations of abuse of deception. Hurd said those comments damaged her career.
The jury reviewed Waldman’s statement, which appeared on The Daily Mail on April 8, 2020: “Amber Heard and her friends in the media use fake sexual assault allegations as a sword and shield depending on their needs. They chose some of her deceptive “facts” about sexual violence as a sword, inflicting them on the public and Mr. Depp. ”
The jury concluded that Hurd’s lawyers did not prove all the elements of libel.
THE SECOND THING IS SURAT DEP
Hurd won the only victory over a statement made by Waldman to The Daily Mail. He accused Hurd and her friends of fabricating allegations of abuse following a fight at the couple’s Hollywood penthouse in 2016 that forced Hurd to call police.
The statement said: “It was just an ambush, a hoax. They framed Mr. Depp, calling the police, but the first attempt failed. The officers came to the penthouses, searched and interrogated them carefully, and left without seeing any faces or property. So Amber and her friends spilled some wine and treated the place, found out their stories under the guidance of a lawyer and publicist, and then called the 911 service. “
Two officers testified that they saw no signs of Hurd’s damage, although a few days later she appeared in public with a mark on her face, demanding a temporary ban.
The jury agreed with Hurd’s attorneys that Waldman’s statement was false and defamatory, and that he acted with malice.
THIRD SETTLEMENT AGAINST DEP
Waldman’s latest indictment included a statement from the same article: “We have reached the beginning of the end of Mrs. Hurd’s deception against Johnny Depp.”
The jury concluded that Hurd’s lawyers had not proved that the statement was defamatory.