Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate rejected Heard’s motion to dismiss the case – Heard’s third such motion since Depp filed his lawsuit in March 2019.
Heard tried to get the Virginia lawsuit thrown out citing the ruling of a London judge last year in a libel lawsuit Depp filed against the publisher of The Sun tabloid and subsequently lost following a contentious legal showdown in an English courtroom.
The London judge concluded that the 2018 article branding Depp a “wife beater” was not libelous and that “the great majority” of Heard’s claims of domestic abuse “could be proved to the civil standard.”
But Virginia’s Judge Azcarate concluded that the two cases were not the same – Heard was not a party in the London lawsuit, although she was a witness for The Sun – and thus her argument for dismissal failed under well-established legal precedents governing when civil cases can be dismissed.
“Defendant’s claim that refusing to recognize the U.K. Judgment in this case would set a dangerous precedent is unfounded,” Azcarate said in her opinion. “If anything, upholding English libel judgments in the United States would create the chilling effect and could create a dangerous precedent. Accordingly, this Court is unpersuaded by Defendant’s argument.”
“Mr. Depp is most gratified by the Court’s decision,” the actor’s lawyer Ben Chew of the DC office of Brown Rudnick told Deadline.
In a recent interview with Britain’s The Times, which is part of the same publishing group owned by Rupert Murdoch that also owns the tabloid The Sun, Depp called the last five years of dealing with the case “surreal” and referred to a Hollywood “boycott” of him.