Johnny Depp gets nod to pursue $50M defamation suit as court denies Amber Heard's dismissal request
A Virginia judge allowed Johnny Depp to move forward with the defamation suit against Amber Heard on Friday, March 27, by refusing to dismiss it. The claim of the suit says Heard defamed Depp in a Washington Post opinion piece.
In December 2018, Heard, in a piece, alluded that during her marriage to Depp, he had assaulted her, even though she never identified him by name. On Friday, Judge Bruce D White ruled that Depp can move forward with his suit under the theory that his ex-wife implied that Depp had assaulted her.
“Plaintiff has pleaded circumstances that would reasonably cause three of the four statements at issue to convey the alleged defamatory meaning that Depp abused Heard, and this alleged meaning is, in fact, defamatory,” wrote Judge White.
The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' actor had filed a $50 million suit in March 2019 citing the headline of the piece and statements within it that implied he was an abuser, as issues. The title of Heard's piece was, 'Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.' She had also included more on the topic in the body of the column writing, “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." Another line stated, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Depp was first accused of abuse by Heard in the year 2016, where Depp made it clear that all the allegations against him were not true and was a hoax to help propagate Heard's career. Roberta Kaplan, Heard’s attorney, argued that the column was not about Heard’s allegations against Depp, urging the court to throw out Depp's suit. Kaplan said, "It was about her and what happened to her after she came forward," Kaplan said. Judge White didn't accept the argument, revealing that the column "relied on the factual underpinning that Ms Heard was abused by Mr Depp."
What was thrown out though was Depp’s defamation claim on a "fourth statement in the piece" where Heard wrote about death threats and being followed by paparazzi - “I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control,” she wrote. Judge White claimed that the above statement did not hold defamatory implications against Depp.
Heard's attorneys have also made it clear that if need be, the team has intentions to show the court that Heard was abused. "Today’s decision leaves it to a jury to decide the meaning of Ms Heard’s op-ed and the truth of what she said. As we have said all along, the courts have strong mechanisms in place for determining the truth. Here, we remain confident that Ms Heard will prevail at trial when the jury is presented with evidence on the question that the Court identified – namely, whether ‘Ms Heard was abused by Mr Depp,'" said Kaplan.
In response, Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman said, “Today’s Court ruling speaks for itself. Roberta Kaplan’s suggestion that losing their own motion to dismiss was what they had planned all along also speaks for itself. As for Amber Heard’s mythical ‘evidence’ that Ms Kaplan confidently cites, we and reality both look forward to seeing it.”