After three days of deliberations, a Virginia jury on Wednesday awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million, saying she defamed him in a 2018 op-ed column in The Washington Post. Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million over comments his former lawyer made calling her allegations a “hoax.”
While Heard didn’t use Depp’s name in the piece, she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp said fallout from the op-ed destroyed his career.
Witnesses called by Heard’s legal team during the civil trial said the “Aquaman” actress also lost out on roles and endorsement deals because of the case.
After a nearly seven-week trial filled with shocking and contradictory testimony from both sides, jurors decided the two stars defamed each other but Depp was the big winner.
Jurors awarded the Pirates of the Caribbean actor $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages (although the judge in the case later capped Depp’s punitive damages to $350,000 in accordance with Virginia law). The jury said Heard should receive $2 million in compensatory damages and no money for punitive damages.
Shortly after the verdict was announced, Depp released a statement praising the jury for giving him his life back.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career,” he said. “And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
Meantime, Heard issued a statement saying she was “heartbroken” by the verdict.
“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,” Heard said.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women,” she added. “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.”