The highly publicized defamation case trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard has concluded, and the former couple now needs to wire a few millions of dollars.
After the jury awarded the actor $15 million in damages and the judge reduced the amount (based on a Virginia state law that limits punitive damages), Heard owes $10.35 million to Depp.
Although Amber was awarded $2 million in damages, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft said she could “absolutely not” pay that amount to her ex-husband. During an appearance on Today, Bredehoft revealed that Heard would appeal the verdict.
Alphonse Provinziano, head of the Beverly Hills family law firm Provinziano & Associates, who has worked on several celebrity divorce cases, told HOLA! USA that this should be an example of how allegedly fabricating information can leave us in difficult positions. “The verdict shows that people going through a divorce should be careful about saying untrue things about their ex-spouses in public spaces, whether on social media or in the media,” Mr. Provinziano said.
“Depp had already won the case in the court of public opinion, with supporters taking to social media in recent weeks to take his side,” the lawyer added. “To be clear, domestic violence is real, and nobody should be discouraged from talking with a lawyer or going before a judge to get help for it. But this verdict shows that there are consequences to making your case publicly, especially if a jury determines that it is not truthful.”
Bredehoft informed that the 36-year-old actress had paid over $6 million in legal costs during the trial.
The expert says that although Amber is pondering to appeal, the public perception of her might have an impact on her persona. “We should expect an appeal by Ms. Heard, but the judgments of the trial courts are usually upheld in most cases historically. I think this will severely undercut her credibility,” he said. “It may have a deterrent effect on those seeking to bring false allegations, but it may also prevent people with actual domestic violence allegations from coming forward.”
Legal analyst Emily D. Baker explained to People what would happen to Amber Heard if she failed to pay $10.35 million in damages to Johnny Depp. “It will be up to the parties, but once the judgment is entered on June 24, I wonder if the attorneys will start negotiating that judgment payment,” says Baker. “Ben Chew said in his closing argument that Johnny Depp wasn’t seeking to punish Amber Heard with money. [Chew said on Friday to the jury: The case ”has never been about money“ or about ”punishing“ Heard.] I imagine that they will try to settle it, and you’ll see a PR statement that they are not seeking to enforce the judgment.”
“If they do want to enforce the judgment,” she continues, “that starts a whole separate process in court, of potentially attaching property, setting up ways it has to be paid. I imagine — and if I’m team Depp, this is what I would do — they’d look at getting an injunction to stop Amber Heard from repeating statements that the jury found were defamatory and then stipulating that the payments won’t be made and there won’t be any judgment outstanding.”
“If he’s not interested in the money, I think he’s more interested in her not repeating these allegations,” the expert says.
“Getting the judgment is one thing. Getting the money is a whole separate thing.”
“From a PR standpoint, it would not be ideal to see Johnny Depp trying to enforce this judgment aggressively,” says Baker. “We’ll see what they do. I don’t think we’ll see them aggressively pursuing this judgment right away. And I don’t think they necessarily should at this point.”
Can Amber Heard file for bankruptcy if Johnny Depp decides he wants the $10.35 million in damages she owes him?
“If Amber Heard is unable to pay the 10.35 million in damages, she may declare bankruptcy which would cause a bankruptcy trustee to take over her assets and pay off creditors, and eliminate the remaining liability,” Alphonse Provinziano, head of the Beverly Hills family law firm Provinziano & Associates, tells HOLA! USA. “If she does this, she will be able to exempt at least $189,500 of her approximately 1 million dollar home, and Depp will not get this money.”
“However, it has been stated that Heard will be appealing the matter, this may cause a pause in the enforcement of the judgment subject to laws in Virginia, which may stall any enforcement attempts by Depp,” he adds. “If Heard doesn’t go bankrupt, Depp can start a process to levy her wages from future movies by her, and move to foreclose on her home to pay off part of the damages.”