Judge Allows Johnny Depp’s Defamation Suit Against Amber Heard to Proceed
Johnny Depp sued ex wife Amber Heard for $50 million last year for defamation of character for a Washington Post opinion piece where she stated Depp assaulted her during their marriage without mentioning the actor’s name. The piece, published in December 2018, consists of three defamatory statements made by Heard that claim Depp sexually and emotionally abused her.
On Friday, Virginia Judge Bruce White rejected a call by Heard’s lawyers to dismiss the lawsuit against her, approving Depp’s intent to pursue Heard in a suit that claims she defamed his character.
The headline and comments Depp regarded as defamatory are comments made alleging domestic abuse. The headline in question reads: “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Depp also complained about several comments made in the article by Heard that he claimed were accusatory in nature. The comments allude to Depp’s alleged abuse: “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. I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
White found these statements to be valid but dismissed a fourth statement he held as not carrying no defamatory implication. The statement Heard wrote discusses receiving death threats and being stalked by the paparazzi.
She wrote, “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.”
White rejected Heard’s attorneys’ request to dismiss the suit.
Heard’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, responded on Friday. “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,” 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.’”
Adam Waldman, one of Depp’s attorneys, fired back “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.”