For three weeks, jurors in Virginia heard Johnny Depp and a parade of his witnesses paint the actor as a perfect gentleman who served as a human punching bag for his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
But on Tuesday, Depp’s legal team ended his defamation case in Fairfax County Court, where the actor is suing Heard for $50 million, going back to the crux of his lawsuit: Heard was allegedly “devastated” his career with a 2018 Washington Post article identifying herself as a survivor of domestic violence. (She had filed for a restraining order against Depp two years earlier.)
According to an accountant who testified on Tuesday, this “devastation” reached an astronomical sum.
“I have concluded that Mr. Depp suffered a loss of income of approximately $40 million,” Michael Spindler told jurors as the last witness to testify on Depp’s behalf.
Echoing a previous witness, Spindler said that among Depp’s financial setbacks was his withdrawal from the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean installment, which reportedly cost the actor $22.5 million on its own. The eyewitness added that in 2017, Depp earned around $17.5 million, which he described as a “typical” year for the actor. At that rate, in addition to losing the major Disney deal, Spindler said his calculation — which included accounting records, depositions and other data — concluded the actor would have made around $40 million more. now without his image.
On cross-examination, however, Heard’s attorneys insisted that Depp’s monetary loss was not his ex-wife’s fault but his own, thanks in part to a “deteriorating box performance.” office” for his films before the editorial.
The forensic accountant’s testimony is crucial given that jurors are ultimately tasked with determining whether Heard defamed Depp and harmed his career.
Heard’s team said the op-ed primarily served as a forum for the actress to urge victims to speak out about an issue that affects millions of people. Terence Doughtery, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), testified to jurors via video deposition last week about how the nonprofit worked with Heard to write and publish the column that “doesn’t did not directly refer to Ms. Heard’s relationship with Johnny Depp.” He went on to note that Heard’s attorneys specifically “removed references to his marriage and divorce.”
On Thursday, Heard’s lawyers pushed their counterattack, questioning Spindler on how Depp’s monetary struggles may have been affected by other factors. Among the possible sources of damage to Depp’s reputation and therefore his finances, attorney Benjamin Rottenborn suggested there was a 2018 article by The sun who called Depp a “wife beater.”
Depp eventually sued the British tabloid over the alleged misqualification, but lost in November 2020, when a London judge found there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Depp repeatedly assaulted Heard throughout their wedding.
“I don’t agree that any of this is accurate, I’m just saying it wasn’t part of my calculation,” Spindler said of the tabloid article, noting that he also disregarded the impact of Heard filing for a temporary term. restraining order in 2016.
Depp’s team closed their case after Spindler’s testimony, which means Heard’s lawyers will now have the floor to tell their side of the story.
Before the jurors took their Tuesday lunch break, however, Heard’s team filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit – a fairly common step in a civil case – arguing that Depp’s team failed to present enough evidence to substantiate their case and that the actress should receive a summary judgment.
The motion prompted a fiery response from Depp’s attorney, Benjamin Chew, who argued the actor was well within his rights to sue for defamation and that numerous witnesses and audio recordings showed Heard was the real aggressor in the relationship.
“No one cared about what she had to say unless she was defaming Johnny Depp,” Chew said, referring to Heard’s op-ed, before claiming Depp’s “heartbreaking” testimony proved his case. “We have Ms. Heard’s own admission of hitting Mr. Depp.”
“Let’s listen to Amber Heard,” Chew added.
Judge Penney Azcarate ultimately sided with Depp’s team – that is, she allowed the trial to proceed – quashing all but one of Heard’s motions, which she kept under advisement.
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