Amber Heard Settles Defamation Lawsuit with Johnny Depp
Despite the case finally coming to a close, questions around the cultural ramifications of the court's June 2022 decision in favour of Depp remain.
This article was originally published on June 1, 2022.
Update: On December 19, Amber Heard took to Instagram to announce that the defamation case brought against her by Johnny Depp had come to a close after the parties had reached a settlement. “After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia,” Heard wrote.
“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this,” she continued. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised [sic] when they come forward. Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to. I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
Heard also wrote that the trial, which allowed “popularity and power” to reign over reason, had eaten up most her financial resources. “I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live,” she wrote, explaining her decision to settle the case. “Even if my U.S. appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence again. I simply cannot go through that for a third time.”
According to an unconfirmed report by TMZ, the settlement stipulates that Heard must pay Depp $1 million.
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More than three million people tuned into the Law&Crime Network’s live stream to hear the verdict for the high-profile defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. And it swung in Depp’s favour to the tune of $15 million (all figures USD).
But both Depp and Heard were found to be guilty of defamation. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages, and Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages.
Depp’s lawyers, Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew (who have become something of celebrities on social media), spoke to reporters outside where Depp’s fans could be hearing cheering.
“We were truly honoured to assist Mr. Depp in ensuring that his case was fairly considered throughout the trial. We were also most pleased that the trial has resonated for so many people in the public who value truth and justice. Now that the jury has reached its conclusive verdict, it’s time to turn the page and look to the future,” Chew said.
Heard, meanwhile, shared a statement to Instagram. “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” she wrote. “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. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women…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.”
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Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard for $50 million for defamation over an essay she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, where she discussed being a victim of abuse, without mentioning Depp’s name. Prior to this, Heard received a restraining order against Depp after accusing him of domestic violence when she filed for divorce in 2016 (they were married in 2015).
The court case, part of a longstanding legal battle between the ex-spouses, has morphed into a cesspit of internet chaos in recent weeks. And while the announcement of the verdict for Depp v Heard will hopefully bring the mayhem to a close, questions around the ramifications for MeToo and the influence of social media on the case remain.
Depp, who is in the UK currently, was not present at the reading of the verdict.
With files from Natalie Michie