A jury that found Amber Heard guilty ofordered her to pay $15 million in damages, posing financial risks to 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 yetthe pledge because of Depp’s lawsuit.
But testimony during the trial suggested Heard’s career came to a halt due to the legal battle with Depp, according to 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.
Although Heard can appeal the verdict, she is expected 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, the jury awarded Heard $2 million in the trial. Depp, 58, earned as much as $650 million over a 13-year span, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Despite everything, a former director and agentduring the trial that his expenses—such as $300,000 a month for full-time staff—had 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 following the highly publicized verdict:
Appeal the judgment
As noted above, Heard could appeal the verdict in hopes of obtaining a more favorable judgment and reducing the payout. But in the meantime, she would have to post bond for the full $10.35 million in damages, which may or may not be feasible, Spurgeon said.
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 seized as a result.
File the balance sheet
Heard also has the option to file for bankruptcy, which would eliminate the $10 million in compensatory damages, Spurgeon said. But she would still be liable for the $350,000 in punitive damages, which generally cannot be released in bankruptcy.
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.
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.”