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Amber Heard calls Johnny Depp defamation verdict 'chilling' in new appeal

Amber Heard arrives at London's High Court, where she gave evidence as a defense witness in the Johnny Depp libel trial against "The Sun" newspaper over an article that claimed Depp was a "wife-beater" in July 2020. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Amber Heard arrives at London's High Court, where she gave evidence as a defense witness in the Johnny Depp libel trial against "The Sun" newspaper over an article that claimed Depp was a "wife-beater" in July 2020. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Amber Heard has filed an appeal after she lost a defamation lawsuit filed by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, calling the verdict "chilling" for women.

Heard, 36, appealed the June 1 verdict which had awarded $10 million in damages to Depp after a six-week trial before Judge Penney Azcarate in Fairfax County, Virginia, according to court documents obtained by Deadline and USA Today.

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"The trial court also erred in overruling Heard's demurrer, in which she argued that the challenged statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the alleged defamatory implication," Heard's lawyers wrote, referring to a decision to reject a post-trial motion to get the verdict overturned and set a new trial.

"That holding, if allowed to stand, undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men."

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Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard after she published a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post claiming that she was a victim of domestic violence though didn't name him. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million.

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He was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, though the latter were reduced to the state's statutory cap of $350,000.

The court also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages to Heard for her counterclaim that she had been defamed by Depp's attorney -- who had referred to her allegations of domestic violence as a "hoax."

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Heard's lawyers wrote in the 68-page document Monday that the case never should have gone to trial "because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions."

"After Depp filed this case, the United Kingdom High Court of Justice ruled in a separate defamation action brought by Depp that Heard's abuse allegations were true," the court documents read.

Those comments refer to a lawsuit Depp filed against the British tabloid The Sun in 2018 for calling him a "wife beater."

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Heard had filed a notice to appeal in July, and her appeal came just weeks after Depp also filed a formal appeal in the case to overturn parts of the verdict in Virginia.

"To find in favor of Depp, the jury must have concluded that Depp did not abuse Heard and that Heard knowingly lied in accusing him of abuse," the court documents read.

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"But, to find in favor of Heard, the jury must have concluded that Heard told the truth about being a victim of domestic abuse by Depp. Accordingly, the verdict against Heard cannot stand."

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