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Johnny Depp Defamation Case for May

Many people are following the defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. The pair were divorced in 2016 after only 15 months of marriage. Depp sued Heard for an opinion piece she wrote that was published by The Washington Post on December 18, 2018. Heard countersued. The case is ongoing. To better understand this case it is best to view it from the perspective of a Florida business litigation attorney.

The History That Led to the Current Defamation Lawsuit

The couple began dating after they met on the set of The Rum Diary. After dating for roughly three years, they married in 2015. However, just 15 months after their wedding, Heard filed for divorce. She appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom with a bruised cheek asking for a restraining order.

Heard claimed that Depp had attacked her and threw a mobile phone at her face. In court filings, Heard alleged there were other instances of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. She also alleged Depp made humiliating, hostile, angry, and threatening assaults. Depp denied the allegations.

The court granted a temporary restraining order. However, before a civil trial began regarding the restraining order, the couple announced that they had settled the dispute. They were divorced.

Why Did Depp File the Defamation Lawsuit Against Heard?

Depp maintained his innocence regarding Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse. However, in December 2018, Heard wrote an opinion piece published in The Washington Post. She spoke about her experience as a public figure representing domestic abuse. Heard discussed how her life has been affected by abuse, but never named Depp specifically in the article.

However, Depp alleges in his lawsuit that comments made by Heard in the article amount to defamation. He claims that her allegations have damaged his reputation and harmed his career. Depp alleges that Heard’s false allegations of domestic abuse are in an attempt to advance her career.

The trial is being held in Virginia, where the paper is physically published. It is thought that Depp’s legal team argued for Virginia over California because Virginia’s Anti-SLAPP laws protecting some forms of speech related to matters of public interest are not as strong as California’s Anti-SLAPP laws.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million. She countersued for $100 million. The trial may last for six weeks. Both parties are aggressively pursuing their claims and defending themselves against the other party’s allegations. The witness list could include more than 120 people. 

Depp Lost a Lawsuit in England Over Allegations He Was a “Wife Beater”

Depp sued the publishers of the British newspaper The Sun (News Group Newspapers Ltd.) for being liable for publishing an article that referred to him as a “wife beater.” He lost that suit, and his appeal has been denied.

In England, the burden of proof was on the newspaper to prove what they said about Depp was true. A British judge ruled that Heard’s allegations could be proven in civil court, so he ruled in favor of the newspaper.

In the United States defamation lawsuit, Depp has the burden of proving the allegations of a defamation claim. It is up to jurors to decide which party proves their case by a preponderance of the evidence. If you have questions about defamation actions, contact our office today.