Jury Awards Johnny Depp $15 Million in Lawsuit Against Amber Heard

Heard won $2 million on one of her counterclaims.


Johnny Depp has largely prevailed in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard. The judge read the jury's decision on Wednesday.

The trial took place in Virginia, where a jury finding for the plaintiff in a civil case must be unanimous. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, though state law will cap the punitive amount to $350,000.

Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages on one of her counterclaims, and zero in punitive damages.

Depp had sued Heard for $50 million after she referred to herself as a "domestic abuse" survivor in a Washington Post op-ed. Depp contended that he never abused Heard; on the contrary, he said she was the abusive party in the relationship. Heard countersued for $100 million.

During the trial, plenty of information emerged to support the idea that Depp and Heard had a toxic, unpleasant relationship. But Heard's loftier claims about Depp's sexual and physical violence were not backed by strong evidence: Indeed, photos of the alleged abuse Heard had suffered were generally considered unpersuasive by many people following the trial.

Still, it's very difficult for a celebrity to win a defamation lawsuit. Public figures have a much higher bar to clear than the general public. It remains to be seen whether the finding will survive on appeal. But for now, Depp is undoubtedly the victor. And the American Civil Liberties Union gains the odious distinction of having helped a celebrity write a libelous op-ed, possibly in exchange for a donation.