In paperwork filed this morning in Fairfax County, the former Pirates of the Caribbean actor has put his legal players on the board. “Plaintiff and Counterclaim-Defendant John C. Depp, II, by counsel, hereby appeals to the Court of Appeals of Virginia from all adverse rulings and from the final judgment order of this Circuit Court entered on June 24, 2022,” said the four-page notice of appeal (read it here).
A legal tactic right now, Depp’s appeal is as much in pure response to Heard’s appeal of July 21 as it is an effort to try to claw back the $2 million award that the Virginia jury gave Heard in her $100 million countersuit against Depp and his 2019 $50 million complaint.
On June 1, after. six-week long and often explicit and bitter proceedings, the seven-person panel handed a near total win to Depp with damages of approximately $15 million. That award was carved down to about $10.3 million by Judge Penny Azcarate under the cap put on punitive damages by the statutes of the Old Dominion.
“This was an overwhelmingly positive verdict for Mr. Depp,” a source close to the Jeff Beck sideman’s camp told Deadline Friday, less than 24 hours after Heard filed her long expected paperwork.
“The verdict speaks for itself, and Mr. Depp believes that this is a time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal,” the source added. “But if Ms. Heard is determined to pursue further litigation by appealing the verdict, Mr. Depp is filing a concurrent appeal to ensure that the full record and all relevant legal issues are considered by the Court of Appeal.”
Reps for Heard did not respond to request for comment Friday on Depp’s appeal notice
This checkmate of sorts today is just the latest legal interaction between the Rum Diary co-stars since their short-lived marriage collapsed in 2016 amidst allegations of abuse, a temporary restraining order against Depp, and a media feeding frenzy.
Depp sued his Heard in March 2019 for $50 million over a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed she bylined about becoming “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Even though the ACLU-crafted article in the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper never mentioned Depp by name, he claimed it “devastated” his already dimming blockbuster career. Though he said nothing during the couple’s 2016 divorce, on his filings and on the stand in the Virginia trial, Depp has also now insisted he was in fact the one who was abused in the relationship.
Having failed repeatedly to get the case dismissed or moved out of Virginia before the trial commenced, Heard in countersued for $100 million two years ago That action came months before Depp’s UK libel case against The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” proved unsuccessful.
At the trial earlier this year, Heard alleged in her testimony under oath that Depp sexual assaulted her on numerous occasions, as well as physically and psychologically abusing her during their relationship. A claim the actor vehemently denied in his own testimony afterwards.
Fast and furious on so many levels, Depp’s notice of appeal and Heard’s from Thursday come just over a week after Azcarate dismissed an ambitious attempt by the latter’s Elaine Bredehoft-led team to throw the $10.3 million award and verdict in Depp’s favor and get a whole new trial. Depp’s Brown Rudnick lawyers called the effort “baseless” and “frivolous.”
Even though they cited the fact that it seems the wrong person was seated on the jury, Heard’s attorneys were soundly rebuffed by Azcarate on July 13. “The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict,” said the Fairfax County judge , who presided over the sometime circus-like trial that started in mid-April. “The only evidence before this Court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the Court’s instructions, and orders. This Court is bound by the competent decision of the jury.”
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