On Friday, lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard will meet in court to determine whether the two actors would drag out their legal dispute or settle it once and for all.
On June 1, a jury found that both parties defamed each other at trial. It was strongly weighted in Depp’s favor. The jury determined that he proved all three of his claims against Heard and was entitled to $15 million in damages, but the court lowered this amount to around $10 million due to statutory restrictions. The jury found only one of Heard’s three allegations against Depp to be valid and awarded her $2 million in damages.
However, the trial judge, Penney Azcarate, did not record the jury’s verdict in the docket. She stated that she would do it on Friday unless the two parties reached a resolution.
Depp’s lawyer, Benjamin Chew, has previously stated that a settlement may be possible. Chew stated in an interview with “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos that Johnny Depp may agree to a settlement in which he waives monetary damages in exchange for Heard’s promise not to appeal the case.
Chew stated, “We certainly cannot reveal any attorney-client interactions, but as Mr. Depp testified and as we both made plain in our respective closings, this was never about money for Mr. Depp.” It was important for him to restore his reputation, and he has done so.
Elaine Bredehoft, Heard’s attorney, stated on NBC’s “Today” that Amber Heard was unable to pay the $8 million she owed Depp and that she intended to fight the verdict. In a separate interview with “Today,” Heard stated that she stood by her slander trial testimony.
A settlement may take alternative forms. The parties may agree to withdraw some of the defamation charges from the verdict, decrease or eliminate the damages owing, or streamline the payment process by having Heard pay Depp $8.35 million, as opposed to the $10.35 million she owes Depp, and Depp pay Heard $2 million in a separate transaction.
Depp and Heard’s representatives declined to comment on settlement negotiations. In March 2019, Depp filed a lawsuit against Heard, alleging she defamed him by publishing an opinion piece in the Washington Post in which she represented herself as a victim of domestic violence.
Heard filed a countersuit alleging Depp assaulted her before and during their 2016-ended marriage, and that he defamed her by having his attorney call her allegations a “hoax.” Both celebrities testified during their six-week trial at the courthouse in Fairfax County, Virginia.
At the hearing on Friday at 11 a.m., Azcarate may also receive oral arguments from both parties regarding the jury verdict. Insider was informed by Samy Abdallah, Azcarate’s clerk, that Depp and Heard are not obliged to be present in court at the hearing.
Abdallah told Insider that if the parties do not reach a settlement and Azcarate enters the jury judgment, the matter will be transferred to the Virginia Court of Appeals within 21 days. The parties would then have thirty days to file a notice of appeal.