After losing a high-profile lawsuit brought by former husband Johnny Depp, actress Amber Heard may be in a bind in regards to how to pay damages — and she may be reduced to filing for bankruptcy, experts say.
Depp was awarded $10.35 million in his civil suit against Heard after a jury found the actress had defamed her ex with malicious intent via a December commentary 2018 piece she published in The Washington Post.
While it never mentioned Depp by name, the piece — in which Heard referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse” — made it abundantly clear whom she was alluding to. However, testimony at the trial portrayed a picture that was far muddier than the clear-cut case of abuse Heard alleged.
(Despite this, the media was eager to portray the sentiment that developed against Heard as the product of misogyny — because that’s the leftist spin the media engages in. Here at The Western Journal, we counter the establishment media’s narrative every day with news and analysis from a Christian, conservative perspective you won’t hear from the rest of the press. If you support us, please consider subscribing.)
Jurors found for Depp on all three defamation counts, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were reduced to $350,000, the cap on those awards in Virginia, according to CBS News.
Heard won on one of three counts in her countersuit against Depp regarding statements made by Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman that accused her of staging a hoax. The jury awarded her $2 million — meaning she was over $8 million in the hole by the end of the day.
As it turns out, she might have problems paying for it.
“Although Heard’s wealth is unclear, she has earned millions for her work in TV and films such as ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Aquaman 2,'” CBS News reported.
“She previously received a $7 million settlement from Depp after their 2016 divorce, which she pledged to donate to charities including the American Civil Liberties Union. During the trial she said she hadn’t yet fulfilled the pledge because of Depp’s lawsuit.”
And, as Newsweek noted, testimony in the trial indicated her bankability in Hollywood had stalled due to the trial.
Heard can appeal the case, but she would still need to post bond for the $10.35 million verdict in addition to interest that might accrue, CBS reported.
“For an individual who doesn’t have the ability to pay the judgment and no ability to post the bond, then there is a real issue if the winning party intends to execute the judgment,” said lawyer Sandra Spurgeon of Spurgeon Law Group in Lexington, Kentucky, according to CBS.
She could also decide against appealing — although, if she doesn’t have the money, she might have to agree to wage garnishment.
“The question is, if she says, ‘Look, I don’t have it. It’s not there — you can look in my bank accounts,’ then we can talk about things like garnishing her wages,” said Jessica Levinson, a CBS News legal contributor.
And then there’s her final resort: Bankruptcy.
“Heard also has the option of filing for bankruptcy, which would eliminate the $10 million in compensatory damages, Spurgeon said. But she’d still be on the hook for the $350,000 in punitive damages, which generally can’t be discharged in a bankruptcy,” CBS reported.
Of course, Depp could decide he simply wanted the jury’s imprimatur on his defamation lawsuit and waive — or negotiate downward — the amount Heard has to pay.
Despite the bad blood, there’s reason to believe that might happen.
“The goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” Depp said in a statement after the jury’s verdict.
“Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
— Angenette Levy (@Angenette5) June 1, 2022
However, that depends on whether Depp thinks the only goal in the case was revealing the truth. Whatever the case, it’s entirely in his hands for the moment.
“He’s in the driver’s seat right now,” Spurgeon told CBS.
Actions have consequences, and a Virginia jury decided Heard’s actions bore $10.35 million in consequences.
If the actress’ financial situation is as precarious as the trial indicated, the result could be financial ruin.
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