A Virginia judge allowed Johnny Depp to proceed with his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard, after her plea to dismiss the suit after Depp lost his U.K. libel case was denied.
Depp is suing Heard, his ex-wife, after she wrote a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. She didn’t name Depp in the op-ed, but she accused him of domestic violence after their 2016 divorce.
In November 2020, Depp lost a U.K. libel case against the publisher of The Sun, a U.K. tabloid that alleged he was a “wife beater” in a 2018 article. The judge ruled that the words were “substantially true.”
Heard requested that Depp’s defamation suit against her be dismissed after the U.K. judgement, since both lawsuits involve allegations of Depp as an abuser. However, the Virginia court ruled that the two cases and statements were “inherently different.”
“Although the claims are similar in the sense they both relate to claims of abuse by Plaintiff, the statements being defended in the U.K. case are inherently different than the statements published by Defendant,” wrote Chief Judge Penney S. Azcarate.
Azcarate also noted the vast differences between U.S. and U.K. libel law, and held that enforcing U.K. verdicts in a U.S. court would create a “chilling effect” and could set a “dangerous precedent.”
Elsewhere, the judge called Heard’s arguments “especially puzzling” and “nonsensical.”
The judge denied Depp’s request to impose sanctions against Heard’s lawyers for filing the motion, finding that while the motion was “misguided and only thinly supported by existing law,” it did not rise to the level of sanctionable conduct.
In his first interview since losing the libel case, Depp said he believes Hollywood is boycotting him as his latest film “Minamata” has yet to score a U.S. release.
“Some films touch people and this affects those in ‘Minamata’ and people who experience similar things,” Depp said. “And for anything … for Hollywood’s boycott of me? One man, one actor in an unpleasant and messy situation, over the last number of years?”