Amber Heard cannot pay $ 8.35m in damages to Johnny Depp, her lawyer says. What happens next?

After a jury determined that Amber Heard was guilty of slandering Johnny Depp in her Washington Post commenting on being the victim of domestic abuse, she was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages to her ex-husband.

Shortly after the lawsuit ended, however, Ms. Heard’s attorney appeared on morning talk shows to say that her client would be unable to pay the $ 8.35 million in damages to.The Pirates of the Caribbean star.

“Oh no. Not at all,” said lawyer Elaine Bredehoft when asked by anchor Savannah Guthrie about the Today show whether her client could pay the vast sum to Mr. Depp.

Mr. Depp won the he has filed a defamation suit against his ex-wife for all three points. He was awarded $ 10 million in compensatory charges, related to lost career opportunities, and $ 5 million in penalty damages. Judge Penney Azcarate later reduced the damages to $ 350,000, the maximum allowed in the state of Virginia, where the trial took place.

For her part, Ms. Heard received $ 2 million in damages for one of her three counterclaims. It left her owing $ 8.35 million in total to Mr. Depp.

While Ms. Heard’s financial status is unclear, Ms. Bredehoft revealed during the final arguments of the lawsuit that her client has amassed more than $ 6 million in legal costs alone.

In 2016, the 36-year-old rreceived $ 7 million in settlement of Mr. Depp when the couple divorced. Those funds, she previously said, were intended to be shared equally as donations to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.

However during the high interest trial, it was revealed in video proof presented by Mr. Depp’s attorneys that Ms. Heard has not yet fulfilled that promise. The actress said under cross-examination that she “fully intends” to honor her vow.

“I’d like him to stop suing me so I can,” Ms. Heard told Fairfax County District Court.

It has been revealed in prosecution testimony that Ms. Heard’s acting career has been hampered by the high-profile slander., Newsweek reported.

Combined with Ms. Bredehoft’s post-verdict interview statements, it has led to speculation as to whether Ms. Heard will be able to pay the costly damages and, if she cannot, what could be her legal remedy.

Although she did not address any financial stress in her statement after the trial, Ms. Heard did acknowledge a deep “heart” at the jury’s decision.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” Ms. Heard wrote. “I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence has not yet been sufficient to counter my ex-husband’s disproportionate power, influence and shaking.”

The possible ways that Ms. Heard could take to avoid paying millions of dollars are not straightforward, and could result in even more legal fees, according to CBS.

Appealing the verdict is one way Ms. Heard could try to avoid paying the $ 8.35 million. Her lawyer told theToday show that her legal team is dealing with this option.

“Absolutely,” said Bredehoft to the question of appeal. “And she has a great foundation for that.”

If Ms. Heard were to take this route, she would still have to file a claim for damages – plus interest – while the appeal goes through the court, according to CBS MoneyWatch.

If Ms Heard decides not to appeal, and is still unable to pay the damages, this could lead to a forfeiture of pay – which allows a judge to order a certain amount to be cut from income or paychecks, and redirected to a creditor.

Under Virginia law, Depp would need a court order before a pay cut could be carried out. The measure has limits with rules varying by state. In Virginia, “a creditor can guarantee less than 25 percent of your one-time income, or the amount by which your one-time earnings exceed 40 times the federal minimum wage,” according to a legal website. Nolo.com.

A third option is to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but this is also uncertain.

Bruce Markell, a professor of bankruptcy law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, said Law & Crime that due to the nature of Ms Heard’s case, she could not be discharged from her payments by bankruptcy. Defamation is considered an intentional crime, meaning that the misconduct was committed with malice or will.

“What sets Heard’s case apart from regular criminal trials is the finding of intent,” he told the news outlet. “Bankruptcy law does not allow most intentional crimes (battery, assault, etc.) to be committed. Defamation is appropriate for the required findings of malice or intent to injure another.”

The final possible imprisonment for Mrs. Heard is something she has no control over: but should rather be initiated by Mr. Depp.

The plaintiff could decide to waive monetary damages or if Ms. Heard decides to file an appeal, drop the amount in negotiations.

It is unclear whether both parties would take this path. However, Mr Depp emphasized in a post-verdict statement that his “aim” to bring the defamation suit was “to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome”.

“Giving the truth was something I owed to my kids and to everyone who stood firm in their support for me,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I feel relieved to know that I’ve finally accomplished that.”

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