Amber Heard to Pay $1 Million to Johnny Depp in Settlement of Legal Battle
Amber Heard will pay Johnny Depp $1 million to settle their long-running legal battle, in which each accused the other of domestic violence.
The sum is a significant reduction from the $8.35 million she was ordered to pay after a six-week trial in Virginia earlier this year. The payment is expected to come from her insurance carrier.
In a statement, Depp’s attorneys said that he would donate the money to charity. His attorneys have previously said that the case was “never about the money” for Depp. In her own statement, Heard said she had “lost faith in the American legal system.” She also said that the settlement spares her the ordeal of further litigation and allows her to finally “emancipate” herself from their marriage.
Depp originally filed a $50 million defamation claim against Heard in March 2019 after she published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
At the trial in Fairfax, Va., each actor testified for several days, revealing lurid details of drug abuse and screaming matches. Their testimony was streamed live on YouTube and remixed endlessly on TikTok and Facebook. Heard alleged that Depp repeatedly assaulted her, choked her and once raped her with a liquor bottle. She often broke down in sobs during her testimony.
Depp, meanwhile, alleged that Heard was the aggressor in the relationship, and that he would try to retreat whenever she became violent. The couple had made audio recordings of their arguments during their marriage, and each side played clips they had selected to try to corroborate their accounts.
The seven-person jury ruled in Depp’s favor on three separate claims of defamation, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The latter sum was knocked down to $350,000 to comply with a statutory cap.
In a small consolation to Heard, the jury also found in her favor on one of her three counterclaims, finding Depp liable for a statement made by his attorney in which Heard was accused of perpetrating a “hoax.” Depp was ordered to pay Heard $2 million, leaving a net judgment of $8.35 million in Depp’s favor.
The following month, Heard filed a notice of appeal, with her attorney citing “errors” made by the court. However, the “Aquaman” actor has now agreed to withdraw her appeal.
In a statement posted on Instagram announcing the decision, Heard made clear that “There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward” and blasted the U.S. legal system for turning her testimony into “entertainment and social media fodder.”
She also compared her experience of the U.S. legal system to the U.K., where Depp sued British tabloid The Sun in 2020 for calling him a “wife beater” in an article. Heard was a chief witness for The Sun. In that case, the judge called the allegations “substantially true” and found in favor of The Sun.
In a statement, representatives for Depp said they were pleased with the outcome, and emphasized that the jury’s verdicts still stands.
“We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light,” said Depp’s attorneys Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez. “The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1 million – which Mr. Depp is pledging and will (actually) donate to charities – reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”
Heard first leveled her abuse allegations against Depp in 2016, in the course of her divorce from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star. She later received $7 million in a settlement and the couple agreed not to speak of the matter again, signing non-disparagement and non-disclosure agreements.
Read Heard’s full statement below:
“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia.
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. 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.
I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.
When I took before a judge in the U.K., I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the worlds media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence. In the U.S., however, I exhausted almost all my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subject to a courtroom in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process. In the interim I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-live. Even if my U.S. appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence age. I simply cannot go through that for a third time.
Time is precious, and I want to spend my time productively and purposefully. For too many years I have been caged in an arduous and expensive legal process, which has shown itself unable to protect me and my right to free speech. I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill – one that is not just financial but also psychological, physical and emotional. Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon.
In settling this case I’m also choosing the freedom to dedicate my time to the work that helped me heal after my divorce; work that exists in realms in which I feel seen, heard and believed and in which I know I can effect change.
I will not be threatened, disheartened, or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.
I’d like to thank my outstanding appellate and original trial teams for their relentless hard work. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and I turn my attention to the growing support that I felt and seen publicly in the months since trial, and the efforts have been made to show solidarity with my story. Any survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief. I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires. Not just for me, but for all of you.
Thank you. See you soon.”