Johnny Depp's bid to dismiss Amber Heard's countersuit denied by judge

·3 min read
Johnny Depp's bid to dismiss Amber Heard's countersuit denied by judge

A judge denied Johnny Depp's motion to dismiss Amber Heard's $100 million countersuit on Tuesday, ruling that the jury should decide its outcome.

After Heard's team rested their defense, Depp's lawyers asked the judge to toss out the actress's countersuit, which claims that Depp and his legal team defamed Heard by calling her abuse allegations a hoax. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote detailing her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Heard's counterclaim is centered on statements Depp's attorney Adam Waldman made to The Daily Mail in 2020, accusing Heard and her friends of fabricating the abuse allegations.

Depp's attorney, Benjamin Chew, argued that Heard's lawyers can't prove that Depp "participated" or "authorized" Waldman to make those comments. Chew also contended that the statements don't constitute defamation because Waldman had investigated the claims and believed his "hoax" comments to be true. "He did believe, and will to his dying day, that Ms. Heard's claims of abuse were patently false," Chew said, adding, "There's no evidence that Mr. Depp even saw the statements by Mr. Waldman until he was sued."

Heard's attorney, Ben Rottenborn, argued that Waldman acted as Depp's lawyer and is responsible for his statements. "There's no basis to grant a motion to strike on this agency argument, on this actual malice argument. The evidence shows that not only was Mr. Waldman Mr. Depp's agent, but that the two of them conspired to falsely accuse Amber of creating a hoax and falsify evidence that they believe supported their theory and what they wanted to achieve."

Johnny Depp, Amber Heard
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images; STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Johnny Depp; Amber Heard

He added, "The counterclaim statements are 100 percent false. There was no hoax perpetrated. Mr. Depp is an abuser who abused Ms. Heard. She did not conspire with her friends to create a hoax. She did not create a hoax herself."

Judge Penney Azcarate then denied the motion to strike the countersuit, saying, "The jury may infer Mr. Waldman made these specific statements to a third party to service plaintiff [Depp] by portraying defendant [Heard] as an opposing litigant in a negative light.

"Consequently, there is more than a scintilla of evidence that a reasonable juror may infer Mr. Waldman made the counterclaim statements while realizing they were false or with a reckless disregard for their truth. It is not my role to measure the veracity or weight of the evidence," she continued, adding, "Actual malice is a question for the fact-finder."

Heard's defense also made a similar (and routine) motion to dismiss Depp's suit after his team rested their case earlier this month. Azcarate denied that motion as well. Depp's team will continue to call on rebuttal witnesses through Wednesday. So far, Depp's hand surgeon, David A. Kulber, and Warner Bros.' president of DC Films Walter Hamada, among others, have testified. Depp's ex-girlfriend, the model Kate Moss, is expected to testify Wednesday. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday.

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