There seems to be no end in sight to Amber Heard’s legal woes.
As the actress desperately tries to have her trial loss to ex-husband Johnny Depp overturned on a technicality, Heard appears to be at the precipice of a new battle with her former insurance company.
New York Marine and General Insurance Co. has filed a lawsuit claiming they aren’t on the hook to cover any legal fees or damages after Depp won a $15-million judgment against Heard.
“The jury’s factual findings establish that Heard’s liability is caused by the willful act(s) of Heard,” New York Marine and General Insurance Co.’s suit said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Depp, 59, sued Heard, 36, for $50 million, accusing her of defaming him with a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The three-time Oscar nominee denied her allegations of abuse and claimed the article ruined his career and led to a series of cancelled film projects, including a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean feature.
Heard hit back with her own $100 million counterclaim after the star’s former lawyer Adam Waldman called her allegations a hoax. Both accused one another of ruining their respective careers.
Depp won three claims against Heard, with a seven-person jury siding with the Edward Scissorhands star, finding there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Heard had defamed him. He was awarded $15 million (an amount that was reduced to $10.4 million). But Heard also had a small victory of her own when it found that she too was also defamed through statements Waldman made to the Daily Mail.
According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the New York Marine and General Insurance Co. covered Heard when the Washington Post op-ed was published in December 2018 and when Depp sued Heard in March 2019.
But her policy states that her provider is “not liable for a loss caused by the willful act of the inured.”
A separate insurance company, Travelers Commercial Insurance, is supporting Heard under a homeowners insurance policy taken out in 2018. But the Times reports that Travelers and New York Marine are locked in a separate legal battle, as the former is looking for the latter to pick up at least half of Heard’s defence costs. New York Marine has denied it should have to pay and has countersued.
During an appearance on NBC’s TODAY show last month, Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft said the actress, who has forked over at least $6 million in legal fees battling her ex, “absolutely” cannot pay Depp.
According to sources speaking to the New York Post, Heard has been left “broke” by her hefty legal fees and is struggling after “lavish spending, on travel, clothes, gifts and wine.” In June, she was spotted at a discount department store hunting for bargains.
Heard’s reps said they had no comment on the reports that she’s broke.
Last week, Heard’s lawyers asked a judge to toss the $10.35 million verdict against her, arguing that one of the jurors — known as Juror No. 15 — may not have been properly screened by the court.
According to the redacted filing, Deadline reports, the summons for jury duty was sent out to a Virginia resident in April. But there were two people living at the same address — a 77-year-old (who was the one summoned) and a 52-year-old (who showed up in court).
“Thus, the 52-year-old- (redacted) sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11 and did not ‘appear in the list,’ as required,” the filing states.
“As the Court no doubt agrees, it is deeply troubling for an individual not summoned for jury duty nonetheless to appear for jury duty and serve on a jury, especially in a case such as this.”
It is not clear if the juror intentionally misrepresented themselves as being born in 1945, and no explanation was given how the younger individual was selected to the jury without ever having to provide any official ID.
But Depp’s lawyers fired back saying that Heard didn’t prove that her defence was thwarted by the error.
“Unsurprisingly, Ms. Heard cites to no case law to support her argument that the service of Juror 15 if he is not the same individual that the Court assigned as Juror 15 somehow compromised her due process and would warrant the drastic remedy of ‘setting aside the verdict and ordering a new trial,’” Depp’s lawyers wrote in a statement obtained by Variety. “Ms. Heard makes no showing of any prejudice, and accordingly her speculative arguments fail.”
A memo filed by Depp’s lawyers, and obtained by Deadline, added, “Though understandably displeased with the outcome of trial, Ms. Heard has identified no legitimate basis to set aside in any respect the jury’s decision. Virginia law is clear that a verdict is not to be set aside unless it is ‘plainly wrong or without evidence to support it’ … Mr. Depp respectfully submits that the Court should deny Ms. Heard’s Post-Trial Motions, which verge into the frivolous.”
Paul Bekman, a Baltimore lawyer who has also tried cases in Virginia, concurred with Depp’s lawyers telling the Associated Press that Heard’s team needed to raise any issues about the juror ahead of time.
“Anybody looking at a 52-year-old and a 77-year-old would be able to tell — hopefully — that there’s a difference of 25 years, and they would have the right to inquire about that,” he said. “I believe it is too late to complain about the juror.”
After the verdict, one of the jury members who ruled in Depp’s favour told Good Morning America in an interview that they didn’t think her testimony was believable.
“The crying, the facial expressions that she had, the staring at the jury — all of us were very uncomfortable…,” the juror said.
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