The widely followed Johnny Depp – Amber Heard trial concluded Wednesday, June 1st. Jurors found for Depp on all three counts of defamation against Heard—awarding him $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Because of a cap on punitive damages in Virginia, Depp will actually receive $10.35 million. The jury agreed with Heard on 1 of her 3 counter counts of defamation awarding her $2 million in damages.
This verdict came after a six week trial that had the entire nation spending hours tuning in to watch arguments. TikTok and social media were flooded with opinions, conspiracies, and people advocating for each side. Though celebs aren’t strangers to defamation suits, the attention this trial garnered was like no other. Cameron Diaz sued the Sun after they published a story about her cheating on her then boyfriend, Justin Timberlake—though the case settled before trial, The Sun had to publish an apology and pay an undisclosed amount of money to Diaz. Just this year a jury awarded Cardi B almost $4 million in a libel suit against a YouTuber who made defamatory statements about the rapper. J.K. Rowling, Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Russell Brand, Sean Penn, Rebel Wilson (and the list doesn’t end there) have all found themselves a part of defamation suits. You have to ask yourself, how are people coming up with the large amounts of money they are ordered to pay?
Sure—maybe some people have this kind of money stored away just in case they find themselves a loser in a high profile defamation case, but it’s safe to say that the average person doesn’t anticipate this kind of litigation.
One surprising way to protect yourself from paying out if you ever find yourself on the losing side of a defamation case? Homeowners insurance! Many homeowner’s policies offer coverage in case you’re ever sued. Usually these policies are anticipating bodily injury claims, but often times the contract purports to cover “other circumstances” which opens the door for policyholders to make the argument that they are covered in cases of defamation and libel.
Shockingly, Bill Cosby’s homeowner’s insurance, American International Group, paid out settlements to seven of the women who filed defamation claims against him. Other well-known men, such as Roger Clemens, O.J. Simpson, and former President Bill Clinton also used their homeowner insurance to help foot the bill for lawsuits they were involved in.
One may wonder—will an unambiguous term in Heard’s homeowners insurance leave the company footing the $10.35 million dollar bill?
AIG Property Casualty Company v. Green
217 F. Supp.3d 415
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts