Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard, seeking $50 million in damages, claiming she defamed him in an opinion piece for The Washington Post in which the actress described herself as a victim of domestic abuse. Heard countered her ex-husband, also seeking $100 million in damages, claiming Depp launched a "smear campaign" against her.
During the six-week trial that began on April 11, the court heard from both Depp and Heard, with the two accusing each other of abuse and giving very different accounts of particularly violent incidents during their relationship.
Dozens of witnesses also testified in the trial, including famous figures such as supermodel Kate Moss and actor Ellen Barkin, as well as psychiatrists, police officers, Hollywood agents, friends and relatives.
On May 27, jurors finally began deliberations after hearing closing statements in which both sides claimed to be the victim and not the perpetrator, accused the other side of lying and insisted they just wanted to get on with their lives.
Depp's lawyers told jurors that Amber Heard was the "abuser" and he was "abused" during their tumultuous relationship.
The jury of five men and two women handed down the verdict Wednesday after nearly 13 hours of deliberation spread over three days in the U.S. District Court in Fairfax, Virginia.
The seven found in favour of Johnny Depp, but the jury did find in Heard's favor on one count, ruling that the actress is mus get $2 million as compensation because she was defamed by a lawyer for Johnny Depp. However, the actress has to pay $15 million to Depp.The verdict is considered a stunning surprise - defying the predictions of many legal experts - made all the more surprising by the fact that it follows a victory for Heard in a lawsuit filed against Depp in London two years ago.
Amber Heard Looked Devastated During The Verdict
Actress Amber Heard's management team issued a press release at the end of the defamation lawsuit filed by ex-husband Johnny Depp.
"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence has not yet been enough to withstand the disproportionate power and influence of my ex-husband.
I am even more disappointed in what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It turns back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. The verdict rejects the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously.
I think Johnny's lawyers managed to get the jury to overlook the key issue of free speech and ignore the evidence which was so compelling that we won in the UK.
I'm sorry we lost that trial. But I'm even sadder that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American - to speak freely and openly," Amber Heard says in the press release.
Johnny Depp Was In A Pub At The Verdict In The Amber Heard Trial
Johnny Depp was not in court for the verdict, but watched it on TV from the UK, where he works.
"Six years ago, my life, my children's lives, the lives of those closest to me, and also the lives of the people who for many, many years supported me and believed in me were forever changed. All in an instant.
False, very serious and criminal accusations were made against me through the media, which unleashed an endless stream of hatred towards me, even though no charges were brought against me. It has already gone around the world twice in a nanosecond and has had a seismic effect, a colossal impact on my life and career.
Six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly grateful.
My decision to pursue this case, knowing full well the height of the legal hurdles I would face and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle in my life, was made only after careful thought.
From the beginning, the purpose of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.
The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.
Veritas numquam perit.
The truth never perishes," Johnny Depp says in a statement.