By Our Reporter
Jurors have finally delivered their verdict and awarded actor Johnny Depp $10m (£8m) in compensatory damages and $5m (£4m) in punitive damages.
But punitive damages in the state of Virginia are capped at $350,000.
US media reports that Judge Penny Azcarate has now reduced the size of Depp’s punitive damages award to meet that legal limit.
Depp will therefore receive about $10.4m in total,
Amber Heard – who won one of her three counter-claims against Depp – was awarded $2m in compensatory damages but received no money for punitive damages.
The actor wins his libel case over an article in which his ex-wife said she was a victim of abuse.
The jury found that Heard’s statements about her marriage were “false” and she acted with “actual malice”
But jurors also found that Depp defamed Heard – through his attorney – and awarded her $2m.
In a statement, Heard says she is “heartbroken” and “the disappointment I feel today is beyond words”
Depp says in his own statement: “The jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled”.
Depp, 58, had sued his ex-wife for $50m for an article she wrote in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse. Heard, 36, counter-sued for $100m, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar.
The Verdict has however caused emotions from both sides.
Amber Heard supporter Sydni Porter, carrying a flag with messages from other fans, says she is “disappointed and confused” by the verdict:
“It doesn’t make sense. Johnny Depp had already been on the downfall with his career, so I don’t think she had anything to do with it.
It’s disappointing for women going forward and how they have to bring evidence to court. Especially against someone as high profile as Johnny Depp.
The #MeToo movement seems to have separated themselves from [the trial] so I don’t think it’ll be affected.
It was very hard to watch even if I believed Johnny was the one who was abused. It shouldn’t be a spectacle for us all to watch.”
Johnny Depp fan Diana Merlo, 24 who followed live coverage of the case on her phone and via TikTok said:
“I’m happy for Johnny. He won his case, he was always being truthful and Amber Heard wasn’t.
I was nervous. When it comes to domestic abuse, we always hear about women not men.
Women can be just as abusive. Feminism is standing with people, not just women.”
Depp and Heard started dating in early 2012, after meeting on the set of The Rum Diary a few years earlier. By 2015, they were married.
But just 15 months after they made it official, it was over.
Heard filed for a divorce and a restraining order, appearing in a Los Angeles court with a bruised cheek.
She said her then-husband – 23 years her senior – had “violently” attacked her and thrown a mobile phone at her face with “extreme force”. There were other alleged instances of harassment as well – “excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse”, she wrote in court filings, “angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults”.
A judge granted Heard a temporary restraining order, but hours before a civil trial over the order was to begin, she and the Pirates of the Caribbean star released a joint statement saying they had put their dispute to rest.
“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”
Depp gave Heard $7m as part of their divorce settlement, which she pledged to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union – something Depp’s team now disputes.
Why is Johnny Depp suing Amber Heard?
For a period, all seemed civil between the former couple.
“He walked away, she walked away – that was it,” said journalist and author Cooper Lawrence, who has written extensively on celebrity culture.
But then in December 2018, Heard wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post, describing her experience as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.
“I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she wrote. “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
She did not mention her ex-husband or any other alleged perpetrator by name.
But according to Depp’s complaint, these three sentences amount to defamation anyway, derailing his career and “incalculably” damaging his reputation.
“The op-ed’s clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser is categorically and demonstrably false,” the star’s lawyer wrote in the complaint. “Her allegations… are part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms Heard and advance her career.”
Source: BBC News