Johnny Depp has appealed part of the verdict in his legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, arguing the single count of defamation that she won at their bombshell trial was an “erroneous” ruling — and that the jury had “overwhelmingly” favored him.
The 59-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” star made the argument in court documents filed Thursday in Virginia’s Court of Appeals as he seeks to overturn the $2 million jury verdict handed to his ex-wife in June.
Depp was awarded a $10.35 million verdict over claims he was defamed by an op-ed article in which Heard, 36, made claims of domestic abuse.
But jurors ruled in Heard’s favor on one count over her claims that Depp defamed her when his lawyer, Adam Waldman, claimed in an interview that her allegations were a hoax.
“The judgment in Ms. Heard’s favor on that lone statement is erroneous,” Depp’s 44-page appellate brief said.
His lawyers argued that Depp couldn’t legally be held liable for Waldman’s remarks just because he had been hired by the actor.
“As a matter of law, Mr. Waldman is an independent contractor, whose allegedly tortious conduct is not automatically attributable to Mr. Depp,” the court filing says.
Depp’s lawyers added that Heard’s claim was “fatally flawed” and the court should have granted their client’s motion to strike down evidence during the trial.
This objections to Waldman’s remarks was the “only statement at issue in this appeal” given the jury “overwhelmingly favored” Depp in their final verdict, according to Depp’s side.
“The jury’s emphatic favorable verdict on all three defamatory statements alleged in his complaint fully vindicated Mr. Depp and restored his reputation,” the filing said.
“Indeed, Mr. Depp prevailed in the trial court on virtually all material issues, and the verdict of the jury and judgment of the trial court represent an intelligent and well-reasoned decision on the merits after a full and fair trial and should be largely (though not entirely) affirmed.
“However, the trial court was confronted with a number of novel and complex legal and factual issues, and although the trial court decided the vast majority of those issues sensibly and correctly, a few rulings were erroneous.”
Depp first signaled his intent to appeal the verdict when he filed a notice of appeal about a month after the trial.
His notice came just one day after the “Aquaman” actress filed her own appeal in a bid to nullify the verdict ordering her to pay her ex $10 million in damages.
A judge had earlier denied Heard’s request for a new trial on multiple grounds including a juror snafu that, she argued, prejudiced the outcome of the case.
During the six-week trial, jurors were subjected to a slew of wild abuse allegations from both parties, including that Depp lost the tip of his finger when Heard allegedly threw a vodka bottle at him during a fight in Australia in March 2015.
Heard denied she was responsible for the severed finger, claiming that Depp hurt himself in a drunken rage and allegedly sexually abused her with a bottle.