Amber Heard settles Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit

Amber Heard attends the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in February 2020. File Photo Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 2 | Amber Heard attends the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in February 2020. File Photo Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Amber Heard on Monday announced that she had settled a defamation lawsuit that had been brought against her by her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Heard, the 36-year-old star of Aquaman, said in a statement on Instagram that she had made the "very difficult decision" to settle the case in Virginia after a "great deal of deliberation."


Her decision ends a yearslong dispute between Heard and her famous ex-husband that crescendoed into a televised trial in the spring in which she was found guilty of defaming Depp, who was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages. Heard was awarded $2 million.

"It's important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimized when they come forward," Heard said in the statement.


"Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to. I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward."

Heard and Depp met as co-stars while filming their 2011 drama The Rum Diary. The couple was married for two years and Heard first accused Depp of assault during the divorce proceedings.

Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard in 2019 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.

The trial began in April and ended in June when Depp 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."

After the verdict, The Washington Post quietly added an editor's note to the op-ed written by Heard at the center of the headline-making defamation trial. The editor's note said that the jury had ruled in favor of Depp that the article was false and defamatory against him.


Heard has since sought to overturn the outcome of the case multiple times, first seeking a mistrial in July over allegations that one of the jurors had not actually been summoned to participate in the trial.

Earlier this month, Heard filed an appeal and called the verdict "chilling" for women.

"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 in court documents, 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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