Compensatory vs punitive damages: Legal experts weigh in on Depp, Heard verdict


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Johnny Depp won the defamation circumstance versus ex-wife Amber Heard on Wednesday pursuing a nearly seven-week demo in Virginia amid allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault.

A seven-member jury declared Listened to defamed Depp on all counts, and awarded the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star $5 million in punitive damages, in addition to $10 million in compensatory damages.

Punitive damages, though, were being right away minimized to the greatest volume authorized in the condition, $350,000.

Depp at first sought a $50 million payout, and Heard counter sued for $100 million in damages. 

Compensatory vs punitive damages: Legal experts weigh in on Depp, Heard verdict

Compensatory vs punitive damages: Legal experts weigh in on Depp, Read verdict
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)


Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Demo Lawyers, described compensatory damages to Fox News Digital as “past and upcoming economic losses.”

“Johnny Depp getting canceled and not currently being cast by Hollywood studios, his pain and struggling, his emotional distress — people are all various varieties of compensatory damages,” Rahmani explained.

Compensatory damages can be described as both of those tangible “past and foreseeable future economic losses” in addition to intangible expressions. 

“Punitive damages, on the other hand, are to punish a person for their wrongful carry out,” Rahmani stated.

He additional: “So, the $10 million the jurors imagined were being enough damages to make Johnny Depp whole for these defamatory statements, and the added $5 million was to punish Listened to for performing with malice mainly because she essentially knew the statements were wrong.

“She acted deliberately or recklessly, not just negligently, and typically you can not get punitive damages for negligent carry out. You can only get them for reckless, malicious or intentional perform.”

While Depp was awarded $5 million in punitive damages, due to Virginia state regulation as established in July 1988, the sum will be decreased to the authorized capped sum of $350,000.

Amber Heard listening to the jury announce the verdict in her ex-husband's defamation trial.

Amber Listened to listening to the jury announce the verdict in her ex-husband’s defamation trial.


Experienced the accommodate been submitted in California where by she lived with Depp, or in New York exactly where the American Civil Liberties Union is headquartered (and the place Heard pledged to donate a part of her $7 million divorce settlement from Depp), Read would have been liable for the complete $5 million in punitive damages.  

For the duration of the courtroom proceedings, it was exposed that the “Aquaman” star has due to the fact only fulfilled contributing $1.3 million of the $3.5 million pledged to the nonprofit group.

Depp, 58, who is on tour with guitarist Jeff Beck in England, did not clearly show up for the verdict, although Read, 36, sat at the protection table wearing a somber expression as she listened to the choice in the Fairfax County Circuit Court.

In a tiny gain for Listened to, the jury – composed of 5 adult males and two women of all ages – uncovered that Depp experienced defamed her as a result of his lawyer, Adam Waldman, as to a single statement, accusing her of staging an alleged assault, and awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages.

When the jury concluded Read acted with malice and produced bogus statements from the actor in the Washington Post article she wrote in 2018 about surviving domestic abuse with no naming Depp, defamation attorney Jeff Lewis in depth how a jury could have designed its choice.

“You verify malice through circumstantial proof, indirect evidence like one of the details bordering Amber’s situation, this kind of that no person would have produced these statements,” he said. 

Depp was not present in the Virginia courtroom to hear the verdict on Wednesday, but had testified in the defamation case.

Depp was not current in the Virginia courtroom to listen to the verdict on Wednesday, but experienced testified in the defamation scenario.

“No just one could have considered they were legitimate or as reckless indifference to the reality.”

Lewis extra: “For malice, you are intended to demonstrate it by a clear, convincing proof typical, which is considerably increased for proof, most possible 90% in phrases of how the jury feels the proof was offered. And juries commonly glance for circumstantial evidence of someone. You can find no way somebody could basically believe that they were being telling the truth.”

In addition, Lewis mentioned the punitive and compensatory damages are “non-dischargeable in personal bankruptcy” courts.

“If Johnny or Amber needed to file for bankruptcy to prevent paying out the individual bankruptcy court docket to secure or discharge intentional tortes like this. So, absent of an appeal, they have to create a verify.”

It took the jury about 12 hours and 3 days to achieve their verdict all through a demo that Lewis noted was riddled with “inconsistencies.”

“Individuals are inclined to be all for Amber or all for Johnny,” Lewis mentioned. “How do you reconcile the ones who think that Amber was telling the truth of the matter or Johnny Depp was lying?”

Minutes following the verdict was study, Read issued a assertion declaring she was devastated by what she believed this verdict suggests for other girls. 

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Heard and Depp were married in February 2015 before she filed for divorce one year later in May 2016, which was finalized in January 2017; seen together at premiere of "Black Mass" in 2015.

Read and Depp ended up married in February 2015 just before she submitted for divorce just one 12 months later on in May perhaps 2016, which was finalized in January 2017 observed collectively at premiere of “Black Mass” in 2015.
(Fred Thornhill TPX)

“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of proof nevertheless was not plenty of to stand up to the disproportionate electric power, affect, and sway of my ex-partner,” the assertion browse. “[he verdict] is a setback. It sets again the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.”

In contrast, Johnny wrote: “The jury gave me my lifestyle back. I am really humbled. From the very commencing, the objective of bringing this circumstance was to expose the truth of the matter, irrespective of the final result. Talking the truth of the matter was a little something that I owed to my little ones and to all individuals who have remained steadfast in their aid of me.”

All over the trial, jurors listened to surprising testimony, which includes an infamous defecation incident in the couple’s marital mattress to allegations Heard severed Depp’s fingertip in the course of a vicious brawl.

Depp previously shed a libel accommodate in 2020 just after he took a U.K. publication to courtroom for calling him a “spouse beater” in a piece related to Heard’s allegations. Read and Depp have been married in February 2015 prior to she filed for divorce just one yr afterwards in Could 2016, which was finalized in January 2017.

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