Johnny Depp won his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a Virginia jury decided Wednesday, with cheers going up outside the courtroom from the crowd of Depp supporters who gathered there.
The seven-member jury found that Depp is entitled to $10 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages of $5 million. But, because Virginia state law limits punitive damages to $350,000, the actual amount to be awarded Depp is $10.35 million.
Heard, 36, also filed a countersuit against Depp, 58, seeking $100 million in damages and saying his legal team falsely accused her of fabricating claims against Depp. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in damages in that countersuit.
Depp spoke about the verdict in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“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, in part. “And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
Depp, who was not in the courtroom Wednesday, wrote in a statement posted on Instagram that “the jury gave me my life back.”
He continued, “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.”
With both actors accusing the other of ruining their lives, the outcome came to be seen as a referendum on who the jury found more credible and believable: Depp or Heard.
Heard issued a statement as well, saying in part, “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. … 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.
“I’m sad I lost this case,” she added. “But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”
Heard and Depp married in February 2015, and Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. Less than a week later, she took out a restraining order against Depp, saying he threw an iPhone at her head, striking her, during an argument in Los Angeles. Depp denied that, saying Heard was seeking leverage in their divorce. At the time, police said they found no evidence of a crime and that Heard did not insist on a formal report.
When the two settled their divorce in 2017, the agreement reportedly included a stipulation in which they agreed not to discuss their relationship in public.