Amber Heard can’t pay USD 10 million damages to Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp has won a $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Amber’s lawyer stated that she is unable to pay the $10 million judgment following the ruling.
The high-profile televised court battle between Johnny Depp VS Amber Heard has concluded on Wednesday when a seven-person jury found that Depp and Heard had defamed each other, but sided heavily with Depp. After the judge decreased the sum due to a Virginia rule capping punitive damages, Amber will only have to pay $10.35 million.
From 2015 to 2016, Depp and Heard were married. After 15 months of marriage, Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. She also obtained a temporary restraining order against Depp in her divorce filing, claiming that he abused her while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Depp denied the allegations and a $7 million out-of-court settlement was reached in August 2016. Heard stated that the money would be donated to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. “Our relationship was intensely passionate and volatile at times, but it was always bound by love.” Neither party has made false accusations in order to gain a financial advantage. “There was never any intention of physical or emotional harm,” the two assistants said at the time in a joint statement.
Amber Heard’s “financial difficulties” were highlighted during the trial. Terence Dougherty, an executive for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for which Heard was an ambassador and assisted her in writing the op-ed, testified about a donation Heard made to the organization after receiving $7 million from Depp’s divorce settlement.
Only $1.3 million of the $3.5 million promised by the actress to the ACLU has been delivered thus far. Heard paused her donations to the ACLU in 2019 due to “financial difficulties,” according to Dougherty.
Asked on NBC’s TODAY show if Heard will be able to pay up, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft said: “Oh no, absolutely not.” She added that the Aquaman star wants to appeal the verdict and “has some excellent grounds for it.”
What Happens if Amber Heard Can’t Pay Johnny’s $10M
The trial for the case started in April 2022 and concluded in June 2022, where a seven-person jury consisting of five men and two women found Heard liable for all three counts of defamation in her lawsuit with Depp. The jury ordered Heard to pay Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for a total of $15 million.
At the time, a source told The New York Post that Heard is “broke” due to legal fees and her previous lavish spending on travel, clothes, gifts, and wine. According to the newspaper, Heard had to change legal representation during the trial and is now using her homeowner’s insurance from The Travelers Companies to cover the cost of her current attorneys. Pamela Johnson, the vice president of The Travelers Companies, has also been seen in court with Heard several times since the trial began in April 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia. Heather Heidelbaugh, a trial attorney in Pennsylvania, told The New York Post that defendants frequently use homeowner’s insurance policies in defamation cases.
Jeremiah Denton, a Virginia-based lawyer, told The New York Post that, while most insurance companies will pay for the defendant’s attorney, most policies have a clause that states that judgement costs—such as the $10.35 million Heard owes Depp—will not be covered. “At the end of the day, the insurance company will keep the option of denying coverage in its back pocket — denying coverage means refusing to pay the plaintiff, in this case Mr. Depp,” Denton said.
“A lot of insurance policies provide coverage for defamation, but they have an exclusion that says ‘We will not cover any intentional wrongdoing,” he continued. To win a defamation case against a public figure, you must demonstrate intentional wrongdoing. Sometimes what it takes to get the judgement is to be kicked out of the policy that might pay for the judgement. That is the problem.”
So, what happens if Amber Heard is unable to pay Johnny Depp’s damages? According to Virginia-based appellate lawyer Steven Emmert, one way Depp could collect his damages would be to seize her home in Yucca Valley, California, as well as collect wages on her upcoming films, Run Away With Me and In the Fire. According to The New York Post, Heard paid $570,000 for the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in 2019 through a private trust in the name of her accountant. The house is currently worth $1 million.
“If she doesn’t have the money, then his avenue, while she’s pursuing an appeal, is to try to execute on property she owns,” Emmert said, adding that Depp could also serve her with a summons “where his lawyer gets to ask her questions like ‘What property do you own, what real estate do you own, what vehicles do you own, what jewellery do you own, what art collections do you own — anything else that they could use to grab and sell a property.”
Given Heard’s $8 million net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth, it’s possible she’ll be able to pay Depp the full $10.35 million in damages right away. “Depp would be in possession of a money judgement against Amber, which he could enforce by seizing the majority of her assets” (not her home if she has homesteaded it). Whether she could file for bankruptcy to cover a large portion of the judgement would be largely determined by her assets and liabilities.
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