Amber Heard says she has decided to ‘settle’ Johnny Depp defamation case

"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."

This combination of photos shows actor Johnny Depp testifying at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., on April 21, 2022, left, and actor Amber Heard testifying in the same courtroom on May 26, 2022. AP Photo

Actress Amber Heard said on Monday that she did not plan to go forward with her appeal of the defamation case involving her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, writing in an Instagram post that she had decided to settle the long-running dispute following a defeat at trial earlier this year.

In a statement, Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez, lawyers for Depp, said Heard agreed to pay $1 million to end the case — far less than the jury verdict requiring her to pay more than $8 million in damages.

In June, the seven-person jury in Virginia found that Heard had defamed Depp when she described herself in a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” The jury awarded Depp more than $10 million in damages, but it also found that Depp had defamed Heard through a comment made by his lawyer, awarding Heard $2 million.


Both sides had appealed the parts of the case that each had lost, indicating a long and costly battle was coming in Virginia’s Court of Appeals.

But Heard said Monday that she did not wish to continue the case, citing a financial and psychological toll.

“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,” her post said.

In their statement, Depp’s lawyers sought to counter any possible perception that the agreement was a victory for Heard, writing that the $1 million payment “reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgment of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”

“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,” the statement said. “The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgment in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place.”

Depp’s lawyers said he planned to donate the payment to charity.

Lawyers for Heard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For weeks, the livestreamed trial became an internet preoccupation, with much of the vitriol targeting Heard, whose claims of domestic violence and sexual assault became the subject of memes and mockery. In her post, Heard indicated that the online abuse was a factor in her decision to not see her appeal through.


“The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward,” the statement said. “I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.”

She said in the post that the terms of the agreement did not restrict what she could say about the case.

Depp has repeatedly denied abusing Heard, and throughout the trial, he portrayed her as the aggressor in the relationship.

Depp and Heard have been locked in legal proceedings around the claims for years. In Britain, a judge had ruled that there was evidence that Depp had repeatedly assaulted Heard. That ruling came in a libel suit that Depp had filed after The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, called him a “wife beater” in a headline. The judge in that case had ruled that the defendants had shown that what they published was “substantially true.”

Heard said in her post that she was not willing to see the claims aired in a court again — a possible outcome if her appeal was to succeed.

“I simply cannot go through that for a third time,” Heard said in her post, later writing, “I cannot afford to risk an impossible bill — one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical and emotional.”


Since Depp’s victory in Virginia, he has tiptoed back into the public eye, appearing in a fashion show backed by Rihanna and working on films.

Heard has remained almost entirely out of the spotlight. In federal court, she has been battling her insurance company, which has been seeking to avoid responsibility for shouldering the costs of the jury verdict. It was unclear whether Heard would ask for the insurance company to take responsibility for the $1 million payment.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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