The judge presiding over Johnny Depp‘s $50 million defamation lawsuit refused Amber Heard’s request to toss out the case. Penny Azcarate said that sufficient evidence had been presented by Depp’s lawyers to continue exploring the case.
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Under the statutes of the Old Dominion, lawyers for the defense in civil cases essentially are “required,” to enter a motion to strike once the plaintiff has wrapped up their case and witnesses. However, it was expected that Azcarate would shoot down the request.
Attorneys for both sides presented oral arguments on the motion earlier this morning, without the jury present. When it comes to Heard’s legal team, the motion’s primary goal is to assure certain appeal rights to the defense if necessary.
And while Depp is not named in the op-ed, his attorneys argue that there was enough of a connection to Heard’s 2016 claims that he physically abused her.
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Azcarate noted that “if there is a scintilla of evidence that a reasonable juror could weigh, then the matter survives a motion to strike.”
She said that there was “evidence that jurors could weigh that the statements were about the plaintiff, that the statements were published and that the statement was false, and that the defendant made the statement knowing it to be false or that the defendant made it so recklessly as to amount to willful disregard for the truth. The weight of that evidence is up to the fact finders.”
She continued on, saying how she would not yet rule on whether a defamation claim should survive regarding one of Heard’s tweets. Heard’s team had no comment on the judge’s ruling.
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Earlier in the morning, Michael Spindleran economic damages expert, testified that Depp “suffered lost earnings of approximately $40 million” over an almost two-year period following the publication of the op-ed.
This included $20.3 million, after agency commissions, from the loss of playing Jack Sparrow in a Pirates 6, as well as $20.1 million from booking for nonfranchise films. Spindler acknowledged while under questioning from Heard’s attorney that he was not offering testimony on whether the loss of earnings was caused by Heard’s op-ed.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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