Is Amber Heard’s Net Worth Enough To Cover Johnny Depp’s $15 Million Judgment?

Is Amber Heard’s Net Worth Enough To Cover Johnny Depp’s $15 Million Judgment?

A jury that found Amber Heard guilty of defame her ex-husband Johnny Depp ordered her to pay $15 million in damages, posing financial risks for the 36-year-old actress, experts say.

Although Heard’s wealth is unclear, she has earned millions for her work on television and in films such as “Aquaman” and “Aquaman 2.” She previously received a $7 million settlement from Depp after their divorce in 2016, which she pledged to donate to charity including the American Civil Liberties Union. During the trial, she said she had not yet completed the pledge because of Depp’s lawsuit.

But testimony during the trial suggested Heard’s career was stalled due to the legal battle with Depp, according at Newsweek. This may raise questions about whether Heard’s pockets are deep enough to cover the damages, which included $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages – although the latter was reduced Virginia’s cap of $350,000 on such benefits. The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in the trial.

Although Heard can appeal the verdict, she may be required to post bond for the full judgment of $10.35 million, plus interest, as the appeal progresses, according to attorney Sandra Spurgeon. of Spurgeon Law Group in Lexington, Kentucky.

“For a person who has no ability to pay the judgment and no ability to post the bond, there’s a real problem if the winning party intends to enforce the judgment,” Spurgeon told CBS MoneyWatch. .

By comparison, Depp, 58, made as much as $650 million over a 13-year span, according at the Hollywood Reporter. Despite everything, a former director and agent testified during the trial that his expenses — such as $300,000 a month for full-time staff — eroded his wealth over time.

Heard did not address the financial terms of the verdict in a statement she posted to Twitter Wednesday afternoon in which she expressed her “disappointment” with the jury’s decision. Here are Heard’s options after the highly publicized trial:

Appeal the judgment

As noted above, Heard could appeal the verdict in hopes of obtaining a more favorable judgment and reducing the payout.

If she wants to stay enforcement of the $10.35 million judgment, she’ll likely have to post bond, said Brian Pastor, an Atlanta litigation and securities attorney with experience in processing judgments. But Heard could also choose not to post bond, but that would allow Depp to enforce judgment, he noted.

Heard plans to appeal the decision, according to the New York Times, which quoted a spokeswoman for the actor.

Not enough money? Wages could be seized

If Heard decides against an appeal but doesn’t have enough money to pay the judgment, she could end up with her current and future wages garnished, legal experts say.

“The question is if she says, ‘Look, I don’t have it. It’s not there — you can look in my bank accounts, “so we can talk about things like garnishing his wages,” CBS News legal associate Jessica Levinson said. .

She added: “It’s not an unusual situation where someone says, ‘I haven’t – I can’t fill that,’ and so I certainly think because she has earning potential.” , part of his salary could be garnished as a result.

Depp could fetch more than his salary, Pastor noted. He could also collect by searching for her real estate, jewelry and other valuables – although some assets, such as retirement accounts, are protected.

If he was advising Heard, Pastor noted, “I would say maximize everything immediately in a retirement account.”

File the balance sheet

Heard also has the option of filing for bankruptcy, but it may not be able to discharge the $10.35 million debt through insolvency, Pastor noted. This is because of a part of bankruptcy law that excludes debts resulting from “intentional and malicious injury of the debtor” to another party.

“The jury form said ‘maliciously libel’ – you can’t do anything maliciously unless you intend to,” Pastor noted. “I am of the opinion that it is highly likely that it would apply.”

However, Depp should raise an objection to his attempt to erase the debt through bankruptcy by citing that part of the law, Pastor noted. It is possible that he decides not to oppose in such a situation.

“The overriding problem is, with someone like Depp, that in practice you want to go back to making films that bring you a giant salary, and so the most important thing for you is not that 10.35 million, it’s your chance to get a paycheck of $10 million, $20 million, or $30 million,” Pastor noted. “Ticket buyers might be put off by him chasing her for those $10 million. .3 million dollars.”

Depp could decide to waive judgment

Depp could also decide not to enforce the judgment, effectively waiving damages, Spurgeon said.

“He’s in charge right now,” she said, noting that Depp could also negotiate with Heard for a lower amount.

If Heard appeals, as she reportedly intends to do, that could be a bargaining point to negotiate a lower payment or drop everything, Pastor added.

“He has already won in the court of public opinion,” he noted. “Maybe he’s ready to say, ‘If you drop the appeal, I’m ready to drop judgment’.”

In his Instagram comment after the verdict, Depp did not indicate whether he intended to pursue the money judgment against Heard. He wrote that “the purpose of bringing this case was to expose the truth, regardless of the outcome.”

He added: “I feel at peace knowing I’ve finally accomplished this.”

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