All eyes will soon be on the jury of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation case. The trial is expected to end this week, and the jury will begin their deliberations.
What facts will the jury consider, and what are the possible outcomes of the case that has captured national attention?
The Facts of the Case
In 2018, Amber Heard wrote an editorial for The Washington Post indicating that she was a survivor of domestic abuse. While the article didn’t name Johnny Depp as Heard’s abuser, many people assumed the article was about Depp because the couple’s tumultuous relationship had been widely publicized throughout the years. Depp alleged that Heard’s story was fabricated and that the article led to financial hardship for him.
Depp filed a $50 million defamation civil suit against Heard in Fairfax County, Virginia (where the servers for The Washington Post are located) in an attempt to recoup the losses he said he experienced.
During the trial, two witnesses testified in an attempt to show the value of Depp’s losses. A forensic accountant testified that Depp lost $40 million in income after Heard’s allegations. Depp’s talent manager testified that Depp lost a $22.5 million deal with Disney for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after Heard’s article was published.
In response to Depp’s lawsuit, Heard filed a countersuit for $100 million.
Heard says that after Depp’s attorney told The Daily Mail that the actress’s allegations were an “abuse hoax,” she also experienced financial losses of her own, according to the New York Times. Heard’s attorneys say she was unable to find work after Depp’s “attempt to destroy and defame Ms. Heard in the press.” Unlike Depp, Heard hasn’t shown how she came up with the $100 million amount. Heard’s talent agent testified that her career prospects fell off after claims from Depp’s legal team, but the agent did not include specific financial numbers.
What Does the Jury Have to Consider?
Both defamation cases have been wrapped into one trial. Seven jurors will determine if the defamation claims are accurate and if so, how much should be awarded in damages. The verdict must be unanimous.
Unlike a criminal case, the jury does not need to find the evidence convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. They only need to determine which side presented a stronger case.
The jury will decide whether or not they believe Heard’s claims of abuse to be legitimate. If they believe her claims match what happened, the defamation case is likely to swing her way. If they believe her claims were fabricated, the case will likely end in Depp’s favor.
The jury must also consider whether or not there was malice to defame one another. They must determine whether or not the exes choose to speak publicly about each other in a clear attempt to bring harm to one another.
If the jury decides one party attempted to defame the other, they will also have to determine how much the defamation cost the harmed party. The defamed party will need to clearly show how they arrived at the requested amount of damages.
What Are the Possible Outcomes?
As the trial comes to an end, the seven jurors will make their judgment. What decisions could they come up with? There are a few possible outcomes.
Depp wins and is awarded the full $50 million. For this outcome, the jury would need to find that Heard’s claims were fabricated and intended to defame Depp and that the claims led to a loss valued at around $50 million for Depp.
Depp wins and is awarded less than $50 million. The jury may find that Heard’s claims were fabricated and intended to defame Depp but that the claims didn’t lead to a full $50 million in losses.
Heard wins and is awarded $100 million. If the jury believes Heard’s claims and that Depp’s legal team acted to discredit her, she may walk away with the full $100 million if the jury believes she experienced damages in that amount.
Heard wins and is awarded less than $100 million. The jury may believe Heard’s side of the story but not the amount of damages she experienced. She could win the case but walk away with a smaller amount of money in damages.
Neither is awarded damages. The jury could decide that no one in the case deserves damages.
The couple agrees to an out-of-court settlement. The couple’s legal teams could meet outside of the court and decide on a settlement of their own. This scenario is unlikely considering that the trial has already gone on for weeks.
We will have to wait and see what the jury decides. Even then, it is likely that the case will continue on as there is the potential for either side to file an appeal after this case concludes.
Protect Your Interests
As we have seen with the Depp and Heard case, a lawsuit can completely disrupt your life. If you are facing a civil or criminal case, you need an attorney by your side who can give you advice and fight for you.
If you are in need of a personal injury attorney or criminal law representation, talk to an attorney right away. Schedule a free consultation to talk to TJ Grimaldi to share the details of your case and see how our experienced legal team can help. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.
TJ Grimaldi joined McIntyre in 2011. McIntyre recruited TJ to create the divisions of personal injury and family law, as well as to expand the existing criminal defense practice at the firm. During TJ’s tenure at McIntyre, he has helped oversee and grow these practice areas. He continues to practice in these divisions while also expanding his own practice areas to include estate planning and immigration law. TJ is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.