Actress Amber Heard is unable to pay her ex-husband Johnny Depp more than US$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 lengthy, 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 awarded him US$10.35 million in damages, in contrast with US$2 million awarded to Heard.
Asked on NBC’s Today show if Heard will be able to pay up, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft answered: “Oh no, absolutely not.”
She added that Heard wants to appeal the verdict.
The 58-year-old Depp, who lost a libel case against The Sun tabloid 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, who had a starring role in “Aquaman,” did not name Depp in the piece, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and sought US$50 million in damages.
The 36-year-old Heard countersued for US$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 “demonise” 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.
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.”
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.