Amber Heard has been found guilty of defaming her ex-husband Johnny Depp in a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post.
The verdict, which came on June 1 after six weeks of a heated court trial, was read in Virginia's Fairfax Court after the jurors deliberated for 12 hours and 45 minutes.
The jurors awarded $10 million to Depp for compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor had originally asked for $50 million when he filed the defamation lawsuit against Heard. Judge Penney Azcarate lowered the punitive damages to a statutory limit of $350,000 in Virginia.
In Amber Heard's defamation countersuit, the jury decided partially in her favor, giving her $2 million in compensatory damages but no punitive penalties.
While she can still file for an appeal after the verdict, which as per news outlet EW, she plans to, the question arises if she will be able to pay Johnny Depp the amount ordered by the court. Additionally, it is difficult to see how filing an appeal would be effective until any significant new evidence or testimony emerges after the trial.
As per various reports, Amber Heard's testimonies during the trial suggested that her professional life has come to a halt because of her legal disputes with Depp. Although her net worth has not yet been disclosed, here are some other options for Heard if she is unable to compensate Depp financially.
Amber Heard's options post-trial verdict explored
As stated above, Amber Heard can appeal the verdict, however, she would have to post a bond for the judgment ($10.35 million), plus interest as the appeal continues.
While talking to CBS News, attorney Sandra Spurgeon of Spurgeon Law Group in Lexington, Kentucky, gave her expert opinion on the possible issue:
"For an individual who doesn't have the ability to pay the judgment and no ability to post the bond, then there is a real issue if the winning party intends to execute the judgment."
Her wages could be garnished
According to legal experts, if Heard decides not to appeal but does not have enough money to pay the judgment, her existing and future salary might be taken.
Law professor Jessica Levinson revealed that if Heard shows her bank accounts and proves that she does not have the money to pay for the judgment, her income can be garnished:
"That's not an unusual situation where somebody says, 'I don't have — I can't fulfill this,' and so I certainly think because she has earning potential."
She can file for bankruptcy
Experts say that Heard could potentially file for bankruptcy, which would reduce the $10 million in compensatory damages. However, she would still be liable for the $350,000 in punitive damages, which are normally not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Heard can get away from paying if Depp waives the judgment
After winning the high-profile legal battle, Johnny Depp could also decide to waive the monetary damages if Heard is unable to pay him.
Since the jury ruled in favor of him, Depp could also negotiate with Heard for less money than what has ultimately been decided as a bond.
The crux of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's high-profile defamation trial was an op-ed piece that the actress wrote in The Washington Post in 2018, where she claimed herself as a victim of domestic violence.
Although she did not name Depp directly, his lawyers argued that the article pointed toward him and asked for compensation of "not less than $50 million" since it tarnished his image professionally.
Heard countersued for $100 million after Depp's lawyers claimed that her accusations were false.