Who Won The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard Case? Final Verdict Explained
2023/09/07

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The new Netflix documentary series portrays the tumultuous path toward the final verdict of the highly-documented court case. The three-part docuseries on Netflix offers a deep-diving look into the controversial court case between the former celebrity couple that took social media by storm in the spring of 2022. Both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard made international headlines for their dispute over the issue of a 2018 op-ed written by Heard for The Washington Post titled

Depp subsequently sued Heard in 2019 with claims of alleged defamation based on her inaccurate and lamenting portrayal of him in the article.

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Following his lawsuit, Depp claimed that Heard only wrote the piece in order to generate a positive public image for herself and was actually the perpetrator of domestic violence rather than the supposed victim. These back-and-forth claims between Depp and Heard were captured during their defamation hearing and drew an extraordinary amount of attention from the press and internet users alike, becoming widely discussed on social media platforms such as TikTok.

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The final verdict in saw Depp receiving $10 million of his $50 million claim in compensatory damages.

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Depp also was awarded $5 million in punitive damages which was capped at $350,000 due to the state limit in Virginia, where the trial took place. The seven-person jury voted unanimously in Depp's favor, concluding that there was not enough substantial evidence to prove that Depp had domestically abused Heard. The jury decided that Heard knew that the claims she was making against Depp were false in the 2018 Washington Post op-ed even though she did not state Depp's name specifically in the article.

Depp and Heard had dated for several years before splitting up in 2016. Although Heard did not describe Depp by name in her Washington Post op-ed, there was enough circulatory context for her allegations made in the published article that indicated she was referring to Depp.

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The jury decided at the end of the trial that Heard had intentionally written the article with the intention of defaming Depp, which is ultimately why she lost. Heard was found liable on three counts of defamation against Depp for three specific sentences she wrote in her 2018 opinion piece, one of which was the title of the article itself.

As depicted in , Amber Heard filed a countersuit against Depp's claims of libel in 2021 which resulted in her being rewarded monetary compensation as well. Heard's counterclaim alleged that one of Depp's lawyers actually defamed her when he made an accusation that she had created an elaborate hoax for the police.

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Depp's lawyer accused Heard of staging her apartment to appear like an unsafe environment to substantiate her claims of domestic violence against Johnny Depp. These claims against heard were decided to be inaccurate and defamatory, resulting in her being rewarded $2 million in compensatory damages but $0 in punitive damages.

Heard had initially countersued Depp's former attorney Adam Waldman for $100 million on three counts of statements he made to the press regarding Heard's fabrication and manipulation of an environment of abuse. In the countersuit, Heard claimed that she was only ever violent with Depp for reasons of protecting her own safety and that of her younger sister, making Deep seem like the perpetrator of domestic violence. Heard ultimately only won one of the three counts she made against Depp and his former attorney claiming defamation, which resulted in the $2 million compensation.

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Despite the millions of dollars being awarded on both sides of the case, both parties were able to ultimately settle after the final verdict was made. In December 2022, Heard paid a total of $1 million to Depp, which he ultimately split between five separate charities. It appears that the monetary outcome of the lawsuit was not the focal point of the dispute and the absolved claims of domestic abuse against Depp were enough to convince the actor to settle with Heard. In a show of good faith, the estranged couple agreed to settle rather than have Heard pay Depp the full amount of $10.35 million that he was awarded in court.

Heard made a point to take to her Instagram account to publicly announce the settlement, stating that although she had found an outside solution with her former husband, her decision to settle did not solidify any admission of guilt or act of concession. Heard stated in her social media post, Heard also made sure to mention on Instagram,

The case gained so much attention that it has been commonly referred to as a media circus, meaning that the press coverage for the event was fundamentally excessive and disproportionate. With an international celebrity such as Depp in the spotlight, it's unsurprising that masses of people were initially drawn to the case, but the sensationalized coverage of the trial ultimately led to a divide between viewers and followers on social media. Many TikTok accounts commented on the trial as it developed, making it extremely culturally relevant and poignant while the televised testimonies were taking place.

became its own form of internet-age modern entertainment, blending pop culture media coverage with a serialized long-form content rollout similar to its own real-life Netflix series. With now becoming an actual Netflix series, it seems like a full-circle moment in which art imitates life. The case was also dramatized in a Tubi original movie . The popularization of the trial on TikTok allowed millions to follow along and offer their own commentary as the trial occurred, contributing to the phenomenon depicted in Netflix's one-of-a-kind .

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