After a jury found Amber Heard guilty of defaming Johnny Depp in her Washington Post When she spoke out about being a victim of domestic violence, she was asked to pay her ex-husband millions in damages.
However, soon after the trial concluded, Ms Heard’s attorney appeared on morning talk shows to say her client was unable to pay the $8.35 million in damagesThe Pirates of the Caribbean Star.
“Oh no. Absolutely not,” said attorney Elaine Bredehoft when asked by moderator Savannah Guthrie today show whether her client could pay Mr. Depp the enormous amount.
Mr Depp won the defamation lawsuit he had filed against his ex-wife on all three counts. He was awarded $10 million in compensatory payments related to missed career opportunities and $5 million in punitive damages. Judge Penney Azcarate later reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, the maximum allowable in the state of Virginia, where the trial took place.
For her part, Ms. Heard was awarded $2 million in damages for one of her three counterclaims. She owed Mr. Depp a total of $8.35 million.
While Ms. Heard’s financial status is unclear, during the trial’s closing arguments, Ms. Bredehoft revealed that her client alone incurred more than $6 million in legal costs.
The 36-year-old was there in 2016 rightreceived $7 million in a settlement from Mr Depp when the couple divorced. Those funds, she had previously said, would be split equally as donations to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
However, during the high-stakes trial, video evidence presented by Mr Depp’s lawyers revealed that Ms Heard had yet to fulfill that promise. The actress said under cross-examination that she had “full intentions” to keep her promise.
“I would appreciate it if he stopped suing me so I can,” Ms. Heard told the Fairfax County District Court.
Trial testimonies revealed Ms Heard’s acting career was hampered by the high-profile defamation case, news week reported.
This, combined with Ms Bredehoft’s post-judgment interview testimonies, has led to speculation as to whether Ms Heard will be able to pay the costly damages bill and, if she cannot, what remedies she might have.
Although she did not address financial charges in her post-trial statement, Ms Heard acknowledged a deep “heartbreak” at the jury’s decision.
“The disappointment I feel today is indescribable,” Ms. Heard wrote. “I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence was still insufficient to withstand my ex-husband’s disproportionate power, influence and influence.”
The potential avenues Ms. Heard could take to avoid paying millions of dollars are not easy and could result in even more legal fees CBS.
Appealing the verdict is one way Ms. Heard could try to avoid paying out the $8.35 million. Her lawyer said sotoday show that their legal team is pursuing this option.
“Absolutely,” said Ms. Bredehoft when asked about an appointment. “And she has some excellent reasons for doing so.”
Should Ms Heard go down that route, she may still have to post bail for the damage – plus interest – while the appeal goes through the court MoneyWatch by CBS.
If Ms Heard decides not to appeal and still cannot pay the damages, it could trigger a wage garnishment — allowing a judge to take a specified sum from earnings or a paycheck and divert it to a creditor.
Under Virginia law, Mr. Depp would require a court judgment before a wage garnishment could be enforced. The measure has limits with rules that vary by state. In Virginia, “a creditor may receive the lesser of 25 percent of your disposable income or the amount by which your disposable income exceeds 40 times the state minimum wage,” according to legal site Nolo.com.
A third option is Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but that path is also uncertain.
Bruce Markell, a professor of bankruptcy law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, said Law & Crime that due to the nature of Ms Heard’s case, she could not be relieved of her payments by filing for bankruptcy. Defamation is considered a willful tort, meaning the misconduct was committed intentionally or intentionally.
“What sets Heard’s case apart from normal tort cases is the finding of intent,” he told the news agency. “Bankruptcy laws do not allow for most intentional torts (battery, personal injury, etc.) to be eliminated. A slander fits on the requisite determinations of malice or intent to hurt another.”
A final possible reprieve for Ms Heard is one over which she has no control: rather, it would have to be initiated by Mr Depp.
The actor could decide to waive damages or, if Ms Heard decides to appeal, drop the amount in negotiations.
It is unclear whether either side would go down this route. However, Mr Depp stressed in a statement following the judgment that his “aim” in bringing the defamation lawsuit was to “reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome”.
“Telling the truth was something I owed to my children and to all those who have steadfastly supported me,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I’m reassured knowing I’ve finally made it.”