Johnny Depp can sue his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation, a Virginia judge has ruled.
Judge Bruce D. White‘s green light means the Pirates of the Caribbean star can move forward with a $50 million suit, originally filed in March of last year. White pins his decision on three of the four statements Heard made in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed; without naming him, she implied that Depp had assaulted her during their marriage.
In a letter, White wrote that the 56-year-old has met the requirement to “plead allegations of an implied defamatory meaning, that is in fact defamatory, as well as circumstances that would reasonably cause the statements at issue to convey an alleged defamatory meaning.”
Last fall, Heard asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying that the op-ed “was about her and what happened to her after she came forward,” and not explicitly about Depp.
White dismissed Heard’s plea regarding the statute of limitations; under Virginia law, claims must be brought with a year. Here’s what White wrote: “Assuming arguendo that Plaintiff proceeds on a theory of republication, Plaintiff is correct in asserting that the date of republication is the date on which the clock begins running for the statute of limitations in a defamation action.”
In response, Heard’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the ruling: “Today’s decision leaves it to a jury to decide the meaning of Ms. Heard’s op-ed and the truth of what she said. As we have said all along, the courts have strong mechanisms in place for determining the truth. Here, we remain confident that Ms. Heard will prevail at trial when the jury is presented with evidence on the question that the Court identified — namely, whether ‘Ms. Heard was abused by Mr. Depp."”
Depp's attorney Adam Waldman also sent THR a statement: “Today’s Court ruling speaks for itself. Roberta Kaplan’s suggestion that losing their own motion to dismiss was what they had planned all along also speaks for itself. As for Amber Heard’s mythical ‘evidence’ that Ms. Kaplan confidently cites, we and reality both look forward to seeing it.”
Heard first accused Depp of abuse two days after filing for divorce in May of 2016. Depp has denied the allegations.