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You may recall reading about Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard. It’s not the only legal battle in Depp’s life, but it’s the one where he claims — among other things — that a December 18, 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post damaged his career. Four days after it was published, Depp’s team alleged, the actor was dropped from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
More on that in a second, but there are two new updates from this week: First, a trial date for the defamation lawsuit was set for February 3, 2020 in Virginia. The judge set aside 12 days on the court calendar for the case, so if things keep to that schedule it should take them right past Valentine’s Day. #irony
However, the second update is related to lawyers for both sides just meeting on Friday in Virginia to argue over a motion from Amber Heard’s side to dismiss the defamation case. Heard’s side doesn’t think the case should be decided in Virginia. Johnny Depp’s side does. So they are arguing (shocker) over where the lawsuit should even be argued.
Johnny Depp wants the case in Virginia, where it appears to be set right now, since the op-ed in question appeared in the Washington Post and the Post is printed in Virginia. Amber Heard’s team doesn’t think the defamation suit belongs there and they’d like it decided in California. Part of her argument is tied to 911 calls in Los Angeles, and that’s also tied to Heard’s claim that Depp perjured himself when saying there was only one 911 call reporting his alleged abuse on a particular night in May 2016. It’s complicated.
So the next step is to get some kind of ruling on the location motion — after the judge returns from vacation. The Blast didn’t have more details on that decision date, other than reporting that the judge would have an opinion on the motion “soon,” and speculating that it’ll happen after the July 4 holiday.
Since there’s already a trial in the books for February 3, 2002 in Virginia, the judge may be disinclined to acquiesce to Amber Heard’s request. But it’s possible the judge will agree with Amber Heard’s team and move things to California.
In the defamation lawsuit, filed at the start of March, Johnny Depp’s side alleged Amber Heard’s domestic abuse claims were part of “an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.” As you might expect, Amber Heard did not agree. Her team wants this defamation lawsuit dismissed, calling it a “frivolous action,” adding that Depp is “unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behavior.”
Johnny Depp claimed Amber Heard’s op-ed alleging abuse (which did not name him, but clearly referred to him) lost him his Pirates of the Caribbean job. He’s asking for damages in excess of $50 million. She has claimed, among her own allegations, he asked a Warner Bros. exec to fire her from Aquaman.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard both have active major Warner Bros. franchises — she plays Mera in DC’s Aquaman and he plays Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts movies.
We don’t actually know the status of future Pirates of the Caribbean movies. There was talk of Pirates of the Caribbean 6, despite the fifth film disappointing on almost every front, and then word of a reboot; then the reboot writers seemed to drop out, and we’ve been in limbo ever since. No one from Disney or anywhere else has officially said Johnny Depp is fired from the franchise, and some fans have petitioned to keep him around. So stay tuned on any new Pirates updates, and for word on what happens with this defamation lawsuit.