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The Final Verdict: Takeaways from the Legal Fiasco Between Depp and Heard

Photo from: The New York Times

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp were both found liable for defamation by a jury on June 01, 2022. Depp was awarded significantly more damages, making it a legal victory for the actor.

Depp sought $50 million in damages after Heard published an opinion-editorial column in the Washington Post in 2018. In the essay, Heard said that she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Despite Depp not being mentioned in the article, he claims it cost him lucrative acting roles. Heard countersued Depp for defamation over statements made by Depp's attorney about her abuse allegations.

It was concluded by the jury that Heard’s motive behind the essay was simply malice. The jury rewarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to Depp. For Heard, $2 million in compensatory damages were rewarded and no money for punitive damages.

According to CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, the verdict is a significant legal win for Depp and a repudiation for Heard. Depp even said in a statement on Wednesday: “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.”

“The jury gave me my life back,” Depp added. “I am truly humbled.”

Heard, on the other hand, said: “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband."

"I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women," she said. "It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."

The panel, which began deliberations on Friday, reached a conclusion after almost 13 hours of deliberation over three days. The high-profile trial, which lasted about six weeks in Fairfax County, Virginia, was broadcast nationwide in the United States and garnered a lot of media attention.

This soon-to-be infamous event can teach professionals a few lessons when it comes to speaking up and defending the truth. First, when you do not have the evidence to prove something, the harder it will be to prove it. Prompt investigation and preservation of tangible evidence make it easier to determine who is telling the truth.

Second, do not turn a blind eye to repetitive bad behavior. When you notice an employee performing poorly or violating company rules, develop a solid plan to correct the issue and bring in any evidence you have in the event of disciplinary action.

And lastly, provide adequate training and take a proactive attitude to HR. You will reduce the risk of litigation and assure consistency if you continually treat your employees properly and implement HR best practices.

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