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Johnny Depp Scores Second Libel Trial Against Amber Heard Despite Last Year’s UK Ruling

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary
(Image credit: (FilmDistrict))

Johnny Depp ended this past year on a particularly disappointing note when he lost the libel lawsuit that challenged The Sun describing him as a “wife beater” in 2018. The U.K. court decision was followed by Warner Bros asking the actor to step down from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3, and he's since being replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. Nine months after this decision, Depp is suing for libel once again, this time for Amber Heard’s 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

Johnny Depp first filed this lawsuit back in 2019 for $50 million, but now it looks like it will be going to trial after all. The latest development in the former Hollywood couple’s legal matters is a Virginia judge has ruled that the November decision regarding Depp’s alleged abuse toward Amber Heard does not affect the Washington Post suit that Heard has been trying to contest, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Amber Heard and her legal team had argued that the November ruling regarding The Sun should be applied to this Washington Post case, but the judge did not rule in their favor. Instead, Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate rejected Amber Heard’s motion, sharing that the Washington Post case does not directly align The Sun case because their interests were not identical. As written in the judge’s comments:

The Sun‘s interests were based on whether the statements the newspaper published were false. [Heard’s] interests relate to whether the statements she published were false.

Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate also shared that refusing to recognize the U.K. judgement in this $50 million case would set a “dangerous precedent” that is “unfounded.” It was in response to Amber Heard and her team’s claims that if Depp gets approved for the second libel case, he could continue to sue additional publications for libel as well.

The Sun case that began in July 2020 and ended in November found 14 incidents that happened during Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s marriage that could connect the Edward Scissorhands actor to the phrase he was described as in the publication. Amber Heard and Johnny Depp met on the set of 2009’s The Rum Diary. They got married in 2015, and Heard then filed for divorce in 2016, alleging Depp had physically abused her during their relationship.

As this $50 million libel suit gets approved, it doesn’t look like Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s legal issues will slow down anytime soon. In addition to this trial, the couple also have other business in Virginia. Amber Heard has a defamation case against her ex-husband claiming that Depp deployed social media bots against her, in direct violation of Virginia's Computer Crimes Act in order to ruin her career.

Amidst all this, Johnny Depp is reportedly receiving a prestigious acting award this fall, and Amber Heard is filming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom with Jason Momoa. It's expected to hit theaters on December 16, 2022.

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.