January 6 (The Telegraph) – A US judge has dealt actress Amber Heard a setback in her $100 million (£74m) claim against ex-husband Johnny Depp for allegedly trying to destroy her career.
A judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, ruled this week that disparaging comments reportedly made by Depp about Heard online did not constitute defamation.
The two actors are involved in duelling lawsuits. Depp, star of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, sued Heard for $50 million in 2019 over a Washington Post editorial in which she claimed to have been a victim of domestic abuse.
Depp’s lawsuit contends Aquaman star Heard, 34, was referring to Depp, despite not naming him.
Heard contended the op-ed regarded “matters of public concern” protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Heard then filed counterclaims against Depp last year, claiming he directed a concerted social media effort to tarnish her career and have her removed from the sequel of Aquaman and as a spokeswoman for L’Oréal as retaliation for what she has publicly claimed about their troubled marriage.
Fairfax County Judge Bruce White on Monday considered Heard’s claims that Depp launched a nationwide campaign to discredit her.
Judge White said: “The pleading fails to demonstrate that the social media accounts communicated obscene language, suggested obscene acts, or threatened illegal or immoral acts,” Mr White wrote. Rather, Depp texted statements, “privately, to two of his friends, and Ms. Heard has not alleged that Mr. Depp intended for her to see them.”
However, Judge White decided that Depp will continue to face her claim over statements made by the actor’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, to the Daily Mail that Heard’s story of being abused was “fake” and part of a “sexual violence hoax.”
Depp and Heard were married little more than a year, but the case has extended 18 months with hundreds of pages of motions and numerous courtroom disagreements over evidence.
Depp lost a separate case heard in the UK in November, in which he sued The Sun newspaper for describing him as an abuser.
The High Court in London heard how Depp “violently abused” Heard on multiple occasions during their relationship. Depp is appealing against that ruling.
The Virginia case goes to trial in May.