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BREAKING: Jury Finds Heard Defamed Depp in Trial Verdict

Heard ordered to pay $15 million in damages

Amber Heard has been found liable for damages for defaming her ex-husband Johnny Depp. 

The seven-person jury reach a decision around 3:20 p.m. on June 1 after deliberating for a cumulative 12 hours over three days. 

Heard has been ordered to pay $15 million in damages. However, $5 million of that amount applies to punitive damages, which the state caps at $350,000.

In Heard’s countersuit, Depp was found liable for damages on one of three counts of defamation.

Depp was not present in the courtroom at the time the verdict was read, although he did teleconference in from the United Kingdom.

Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against Heard for $50 million after alleging the op-ed she authored for The Washington Post damaged his reputation. 

His legal team said the actress presented herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse,” which had financial consequences for her ex-husband even though it never specifically included his name.

Heard countersued for $100 million. Her lawyers argued that Depp’s attorney defamed her by saying her domestic violence allegations were false.

The six-week trial concluded on May 27. Because the Post’s servers are located in Virginia, the trial took place in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

A number of people testified on behalf of both parties, including their sisters and supermodel Kate Moss. 

Juries in defamation cases are asked to consider if a defendant acted with “actual malice,” meaning that he or she knew their statements were false or that they acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

“The jury was instructed to focus its deliberation not only on whether there was abuse but also whether Heard’s op-ed piece can be considered legally defamatory,” reports CBS News. “The article itself focuses mostly on policy questions of domestic violence, but Depp’s lawyer point to two passages in the article, as well as an online headline that they say defamed Depp.”

Heard and Depp met while filming 2011’s The Rum Diaries. The couple’s contentious divorce took place in 2016.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Heard was “guilty,” which is an inaccurate term. 

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