WASHINGTON: Actress Amber Heard is unable to pay her ex-husband Johnny Depp more than $10 million in damages, her lawyer said Thursday, after a US jury took the side of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star in a bitter defamation trial.
The high-profile televised court battle ended Wednesday when a seven-person jury found that Depp and Heard had defamed each other, but weighed in far more strongly with Depp.
The jury, after a six-week trial featuring claims and counterclaims of domestic abuse, awarded him $10.35 million in damages, in contrast with $2 million awarded to Heard.
Asked on NBC’s TODAY show if Heard will be able to pay up, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft said: “Oh no, absolutely not.”
She added that the ‘Aquaman’ star wants to appeal the verdict and “has some excellent grounds for it.”
The 58-year-old Depp, who lost a libel case against the British tabloid The Sun in London in 2020 for calling him a “wife-beater,” celebrated the split verdict in the case as a victory while Heard said she was “heart-broken.”
Depp sued Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The Texas-born Heard did not name Depp in the piece, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and sought $50 million in damages.
The 36-year-old Heard countersued for $100 million, saying she was defamed by statements made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told the Daily Mail her abuse claims were a “hoax.”
Bredehoft said Depp’s legal team worked to “demonize” Heard and suppressed crucial evidence in the trial, preventing the jurors from examining evidence of Depp’s alleged abuse.
“A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused,” she said.
“We had an enormous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case that was in the UK case,” she said. “In the UK case when it came in, Amber won, Mr. Depp lost.”
The lawyer said the ruling bodes ill for the MeToo movement and will discourage women from reporting sexual harassment and abuse.
“It’s a horrible message,” Bredehoft said. “It’s a significant setback, because that’s exactly what it means.
“Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively you won’t be believed.”
Bredehoft was asked by TODAY about Heard’s immediate reaction to the verdict in the trial, which took place in Fairfax County Circuit Court near the US capital.
“One of the first things she said is that, ‘I am so sorry to all those women out there,’” she said. “This is a setback for all women in and outside the courtroom, and she feels the burden of that.”
In a statement, Heard said “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,” she said.
For his part, Depp welcomed the verdict, saying “The jury gave me my life back.”
“The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun,” Depp said in a statement.
Bredehoft said social media may have had an impact on the case although jurors had been instructed not to look at it.
“There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible,” she said. “It really, really was lopsided.”
Heard’s attorney also said she opposed having the trial televised.
“I was against cameras in the courtroom, and I went on record with that and had argued against it because of the sensitive nature of this, but it made it a zoo,” she said.