Amber Heard was found guilty of defaming her ex-husband Johnny Depp on Wednesday (1 June) and was ordered to pay $15 million in damages.
Experts say the jurors’ decision poses financial risks for Heard, whose wealth is ‘unclear’.
There are a couple of options available to the star, who has earned millions for roles in films like Aquaman and Aquaman 2, but she may be in trouble if Depp actually executes the judgement.
In total, Heard must pay $10 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
The latter figure was $5 million, but the state of Virginia – where the court case played out – has a $350,000 cap on such sums.
According to CBS, Heard could either appeal the judgement, file for bankruptcy or risk having her wages ‘garnished’.
If Heard does decide to seek a more favourable judgement and appeal, she’d still have to post bond for the entire $10.35 million in damages, which may not be economically feasible for the star.
She could also file for bankruptcy, which would totally eliminate the $10 million she’s due to pay in compensatory damages, but the $350,000 Heard’s been ordered to pay in punitive damages can’t be waived.
CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson also said Heard could end up having her wages garnished.
Levinson explained: “The question is if she says, ‘Look, I don’t have it. It’s not there — you can look in my bank accounts,’ then we can talk about things like garnishing her wages.
“That’s not an unusual situation where somebody says, ‘I don’t have — I can’t fulfil this,’ and so I certainly think because she has earning potential” part of her wages could be garnished as a result.”
Of course, Depp could also decide to waive monetary damages or negotiate a lower sum, however, as CBS pointed out, the Pirates of the Caribbean star failed to indicate whether or not he’s going to pursue the payout in a statement released after the jury’s decision was read in court.
Following yesterday’s trial verdict, Depp released a statement, which read in part: “Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed. All in the blink of an eye.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already travelled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”