Why Johnny Depp Won't Receive The Full $15 Million From The Amber Heard Case

A mixed verdict was reached in the high-profile defamation case between actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. The case stemmed from accusations of domestic abuse Heard brought against Depp in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. Also part of the verdict, Heard won just one of three countersuits she brought against Depp, which were also for defamation. Her award is a total of $2 million in damages, as NBC News reports. The jury reached their verdict after only three days of deliberations.

The total amount awarded to Depp was $15 million, including $10 million in damages and $5 in punitive damages. His initial suit was for $50 million, to which Heard countersued for $100 million. The trial between the two stars took place in the state of Virginia rather than California, simply because that's where the Washington Post is published — although the paper itself is not named in Depp's litigation, as iNews notes. And due to a legal loophole in the state of Virginia, Depp won't see the full $15 million he was awarded, as the New York Post explains.

Both Depp and Heard testified in the trial

The mixed verdict in the libel case between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp came after dramatic testimony from both parties in the six-week-long trial. In a statement from Depp after the verdict was announced, he explained the goal of bringing the case against Heard was to reveal the truth of the situation, regardless of the outcome. In the statement, Depp said, (via CBS News) "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."

Heard also released a statement after she learned of the jury's decision. In it, she said she felt she had lost her right to speak freely as an American. Relatives and character witnesses both came forward in support of both Heard and Depp throughout the proceedings. Evidence presented included audio recordings and text messages.

Virginia law limits punitive damages

Now that the case is settled, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star will, however, not see the full $15 million he was awarded because the state of Virginia limits the total amount of punitive damages to only $350,000, according to the New York Post. Although Depp was awarded $5 million in punitive damages in his lawsuit, that legal loophole takes Depp's full award down to roughly $10 million, and after the $2 million the jury also awarded to Heard, his total is a bit more than $8 million. 

Speaking with CBS News, legal analyst Jessica Levinson commented the verdict indicates that in the jury's opinion, both Depp and Heard are guilty of lying. After the verdict was read, Heard released a statement on Twitter, "I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex husband." On Instagram, Depp also said, "[T]he jury gave me my life back."