Celebrity Disputes

Like all things in Hollywood, break ups of celebrity couples are larger than life. Such was the case when Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp on May 23, 2016 after only 15 months of marriage.

Within one week of the filing, Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp for alleged physical abuse. Depp continues to deny Heard’s claims of domestic violence to this day, although photos came to light at the time that apparently supported her claim.

In the end, Heard and Depp reached a settlement in the divorce proceeding as to the disposition of their assets. Heard kept Pistol and Boo (their dogs), and Depp kept sole possession of real estate assets and 40 vehicles, which included vintage cars and cycles. Heard also received $7 million from Depp in their divorce settlement, certain sums of which reportedly were donated to charities, including organizations dealing with domestic abuse. And in true Hollywood fashion, the divorce agreement was finalized on Friday the 13th in January 2017.

Since then, on March 1, 2019, Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard in Virginia, alleging, among others,that statements in Heard’s op-ed piece about violence against women, which was published in The Washington Post on December 18, 2018, was part of an “elaborate hoax” to further her own career.

On April 10, 2019, Heard filed a motion to dismiss Depp’s defamation complaint, stating multiple incidences of abuse.Heard has also argued for dismissal on the basis that the appropriate venue for this matter is in Los Angeles, California, and not Fairfax County, Virginia, where The Washington Post is printed.

In her Combined Motion to Dismiss, filed on April 11, 2019, Heard stated that Depp’s defamation claims should be dismissed in their entirety with prejudice under the California Anti-SLAPP statute, and is even subject to dismissal under the Virginia Anti-SLAPP statute.On May 20, 2019, Depp filed his opposition to Heard’s motion, claiming that Virginia is the proper forum as that is where the purported libel occurred, and that Heard fabricated her allegations of physical abuse against Depp.

At the motion hearing in June 2019, the court took the motion under advisement and will likely issue a decision within the coming weeks. Trial in this matter is currently set in Virginia for February 3, 2020.