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Explained : Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard -How US Jury Answered Defamation Claims Against Each Other?

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
2 Jun 2022 6:10 AM GMT
Explained : Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard -How US Jury Answered Defamation Claims Against Each Other?
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A US Jury has delivered its verdict in the high profile defamation case between Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, after a highly dramatic trial spread over six weeks, the live-stream of which caused a sensation in the internet.

A 7-member jury constituted by the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia, unanimously ruled that a 2018 article published by Heard imputing domestic violence against her former husband Depp was defamatory. The jury awarded $10 Million as compensatory damages and $5 Million as punitive damages to Depp.

Also, Heard had filed a counter-suit against Depp, alleging defamation with respect to certain public statements made by Depp's lawyer. The Jury partly allowed Heard's counter-suit, and held one statement of Depp's lawyer to be defamatory. She was awarded $2 Million as damages from Depp.

Here is an explainer of the claims made by both the parties in their respective suits.

In Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard Civil Action No. CL-2019-000291 :

First Claim of Depp against Heard

The statement appearing in online op-ed titled ""I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change" in the Washington Post online edition -"I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change", is defamatory.

Depp has proved by a greater weight of evidence that :

a)The statement was made by Ms.Heard.

b)The statement was about Depp

c)The statement has a defamatory implication about Mr.Depp.

d)The defamatory implication was designed and intended by Ms.Heard.

e)Due to the circumstances surrounding the publication of the statement, it conveyed a defamatory implication to someone other than Mr.Depp who saw it.

f) Mr.Depp has proved by "clear and convincing" evidence that Ms Heard has acted with "actual malice".

Second claim of Depp against Heard

The second claim of Depp was with respect to the following statement in the 2018 op-ed written by Heard : "Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out."

The jury held the statement to be defamatory and answered all gave affirmative answers (a) to (f) as in the first claim.

Third claim of Depp against Heard

The third claim of Depp was with respect to he following statement in the 2018 op-ed written by Heard : "I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse."

The jury held the statement to be defamatory and answered all gave affirmative answers (a) to (f) as in the first and second claims.

"As against Amber Heard, we the jury, award 10 Million $ as compensatory damages and 5 million $ as punitive damages", the jury ruled.

In Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp Civil Action No- CL-2019-29911

First Claim of Heard against Depp

As to the statement made by Depp's attorney Adam Waldman dated April 8, 2020 appearing in the online edition of the Daily Mail : "Amber Heard and her friends in the media use fake sexual-violence allegations as both a sword and shield depending on their needs. They have selected some of her sexual-violence hoax 'facts' as the sword, inflicting them on the public and Mr. Depp."

The jury answerd that Heard has not proven all elements of defamation with respect to the above statement.

Second claim of Heard against Depp

As to the statement made by Depp's attorney Adam Waldman dated April 27, 2020 appearing in the online edition of the Daily Mail : "Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops, but the first attempt didn't do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then placed a second call to 911."

The jury answered that this statement was defamatory and Heard has proven all elements of defamation.

The jury held that Ms.Heard by greater weight of evidence has proven:

a)Mr.Waldman, while acting as an agent of Mr.Depp, made or published the statement.

b)The statement was about Ms Heard.

c)The statement was seen by some one other than Ms.Heard.

d) The statement was false

e)The statement was made with actual malice

Third claim of Heard against Depp

The third claim was with respect to the statement of Mr.Waldman in the same article : "We have reached the beginning of the end of Ms. Heard's abuse hoax against Johnny Depp."

The jury held this to be not defamatory.

"As against John C Depp, we the jury award award $2 million as compensatory damages and $zero as punitive damages".

The Livestream of the pronouncement can be watched here

Depp had lost libel suit in United Kingdom

It may be noted that in 2020 Depp had lost a libel suit filed by him in the United Kingdom against "The Sun", after a UK Court held that the article which called him a wife-beater was "substantially true".

After the US jury's verdict, Depp said he was "humbled" by the decision. Heard has said she was "disappointed with what this verdict means for other women."

"I believe Johnny's attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore the evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK", Heard said in Twitter.




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