A Virginia court has ruled that Johnny Depp can now go ahead with his $50 million defamation case against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, who accused him of domestic violence.
According to THR, Depp sued Heard in March 2019, claiming that an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post defamed him by implying that he’s a domestic abuser. Heard lost a bid to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds, and later filed a demurrer arguing the statements aren’t actionable.
Well, in a Friday letter to the parties, Judge Bruce D. White wrote that Depp has met the requirement to “plead allegations of an implied defamatory meaning, that is in fact defamatory, as well as circumstances that would reasonably cause the statements at issue to convey an alleged defamatory meaning.”
White notes that editorials and op-eds are typically not actionable because opinions by their nature aren’t defamatory, but Virginia law provides a cause of action for defamation that “may be made by inference, implication, or insinuation.” In evaluating such claims, White draws all fair inferences in Depp’s favour and considers evidence that has been presented to provide context, specifically events surrounding their divorce.
The statements that White agrees could potentially rise to defamation by implication are:
— “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
— “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
— “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
You can out the rest of the ruling here.