Amber Heard unable to pay Johnny Depp $10.4m in damages

Lawyer for actress says she 'has excellent grounds' to appeal jury's decision

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Actress Amber Heard is “absolutely not” able to pay ex-husband Johnny Depp more than $10 million in damages, her lawyer said on Thursday, after the Pirates of the Caribbean star prevailed in a bitter defamation case that Heard plans to appeal.

The high-profile court battle ended on Wednesday, with the jury finding that both stars had defamed each other — but Depp was awarded millions more in damages.

The jury awarded Depp $10m in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages, though Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, the state's legal limit, bringing the actor's total damages $10.4m, NBC reported.

Asked on NBC's Today show if Heard would be able to pay, her lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredehoft said: “Oh no, absolutely not.”

Ms Bredehoft added that Heard plans to appeal the decision.

“She has excellent grounds for it,” she said.

The lawyer added that Depp's legal team attempted to “demonise” the Aquaman star and suppress evidence during the trial.

Depp sued ex-wife Heard over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she called herself a “public figure representing domestic abuse”. Depp was not named in the column, but said it caused him to lose out on lucrative acting gigs. He sought $50m in damages.

Heard countersued for $100m, saying a lawyer for Depp had defamed her by telling The Daily Mail her claims of abuse were a “hoax”.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star celebrated Wednesday's verdict, saying: “The jury gave me my life back.”

Heard's lawyer said the decision marked a significant setback for the #MeToo movement and would prevent other women from reporting domestic abuse.

“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,” Ms Bredehoft said.

In her own statement on Wednesday, Heard called the decision a setback for women.

“I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband,” Heard said.

Agence-France Presse contributed to this report

Updated: June 02, 2022, 3:49 PM