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Johnny Depp Takes The Stand In A $50 Million Defamation Lawsuit

April 22, 2022

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<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Pirates of the Caribbean</em> star Johnny Depp recently took the stand in a Virginia court in a defamation case against his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Depp is suing Heard for $50 Million dollars over a 2018 Op-Ed she wrote for the Washington Post, where she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">What is particularly interesting about this suit is that the Op-Ed never mentions Depp by name, nor goes into details of their 3-year marriage. Nonetheless, the article engendered sufficient media attention such that Depp felt the need to refute even Heard’s general allegations, for the sake of his career and general reputation.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The case comes after a 2020 suit brought by Depp in the UK against the News Group Newspapers and Dan Wootton, who serves as executive editor of news outlet The Sun. The suit was over an article claiming Depp was violent toward his ex-wife while they were married. The UK Court ruled in the publisher’s favor, and cited photos, audio recordings and text messages in support of their ruling.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">UK Judge Andrew Nicol found the Sun’s claims were proven to be “substantially true.” Now, to prevail in the Virginia action, Depp must satisfy a higher burden of proof: he must show that Heard not only made false statements, but also did so with malice.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case presents a high-profile example of the difference between US and UK law on defamation. These jurisdictions frequently interact and overlap in insurance matters and WCM continues to service clients from the US and UK.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thank you to Alexandra Deplas for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Andrew Gibbs</a> with any questions.</p>

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