Johnny Depp Legal Team Doesn’t Want To Pay Out $2 Million, Say Amber Heard’s Claim Was ‘Fatally Flawed’ In Appeal

Johnny Depp in court with a suit on.
(Image credit: Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After a six-week, very public defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the jury greatly sided with the Pirates of the Caribbean actor at its conclusion. In the Depp v. Heard verdict, Heard was found guilty on three counts of defamation and owed her ex $15 million, but Depp was also found guilty on one count of Heard's countersuit, owing her $2 million in damages. The latest development regarding this case is an appeal made by Depp regarding what he owes Heard. 

On Wednesday, Johnny Depp filed a 44-page appellate brief with his lawyers suggesting that he should not be held liable for paying the $2 million decided upon by the court in June. The documents call Heard’s countersuit “fatally flawed” along with suggesting the court “should have granted Mr. Depp’s motion for summary judgment,” per Law & Crime. The brief also included three reasons as to why, starting with these words: 

First, Mr. Depp cannot be held liable for Mr. Waldman’s statements as a matter of law. Ms. Heard sought to hold Mr. Depp liable for the April 27 Waldman Statement on a pure theory of vicarious liability, contending that Mr. Depp was liable merely because Mr. Waldman had been retained by Mr. Depp as his attorney and was therefore his agent. But as a matter of law, Mr. Waldman is an independent contractor, whose allegedly tortious conduct is not automatically attributable to Mr. Depp. Indeed, a wealth of authorities supports limiting a client’s liability for allegedly tortious conduct by an attorney, and the Court should impose that same limit here.

Depp’s lawyers argue that the actor should not have been legally held liable for one of his lawyers, Adam Waldman, saying the claims that Amber Heard regarded as defamation in her countersuit. In Heard’s defamation countersuit, the jury ruled in favor of Heard for one of three statements Waldman said, leading to one count of damages summing up to $2 million. Here's the next reason per Depp's latest document: 

Second, because Ms. Heard proceeded against Mr. Depp at trial on a purely vicarious theory of liability, she was required to present evidence that Mr. Waldman committed each element of the tort of defamation, including that he acted with actual malice. No evidence of Mr. Waldman’s actual malice was presented at trial, so the judgment against Mr. Depp cannot be sustained.

The claim believes that Waldman’s statement was “solely” the subject of Heard’s defamation suit, and thus it's believed that the court’s “judgment in Ms. Heard’s favor on that lone statement is erroneous.” Here’s the final reason: 

Third, the April 27 Waldman Statement, viewed in context, is a non-actionable statement of opinion insufficient to support a claim for defamation.

Elsewhere on the lengthy document, pages of arguments expand on the points outlined as the above three reasons. If you’re interested in checking out the full document, check out Depp’s full Brief of Appeals. Depp is seeking full victory from his ex wife with this move following Heard seeking her own appeal from the verdict. 

Amber Heard is currently attempting to get her own ruling thrown out on the grounds that both sides won aspects of the case, making it “inherently and irreconcilably inconsistent.” Her appeal also claims that her victory in the U.K. case should have been factored into the Virginia case. 

As both Depp and Heard continue to work with their lawyers regarding their defamation cases, Johnny Depp has been back to work, filming a French movie about King Louis XV. On the other hand, Heard is reportedly living in Spain under a pseudonym. We’ll keep you updated here on CinemaBlend as more developments emerge. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.