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Amber Heard Sues Comedian for Defamation Over Depp Divorce Comments

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on June 08, 2016 4:05 PM

Acting couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have not been married long but already they are divorcing and already their divorce case is spawning other lawsuits. The first is Heard's filing, a defamation claim against comedian Doug Stanhope, who posted an article in defense of Depp on May 29 in TheWrap.com.

In this article, which has since been removed from the website, Stanhope accuses Heard of blackmailing Depp and lying about his alleged domestic abuse. Heard seeks punitive damages for defamation, emotional distress, and interference with economic relations. Let's consider the claims, which were reported by Courthouse News Service.

Stanhope Says

After Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's divorce news reached the press, everyone had a lot to say about it, including the couple's friends, who stood up for them. Reportedly, in his column, Stanhope wrote that he watched Amber Heard manipulate her husband for years and that Depp was being used and set up. He expressed remorse at not speaking out while the press was digesting Heard's abuse allegations and claimed that it is Heard who abused Depp.

Stanhope explained in his piece that he never told Johnny Depp what a "demon" Amber Heard was for fear of alienating his friend, the actor. The comedian reportedly wrote, "When your friend is in an awful, abusive relationship -- man or woman -- and you risk weighing in that their counterpart is a demon, you know the odds are they will jump right back into the fire and then dump you from their life for being honest."

Arguing in her suit that Stanhope wrote the article to destroy her reputation and career, Heard says that she demanded that TheWrap.com retract the piece but it would not. The article is no longer up on the site now.

Proving Defamation

Defamation law varies from state to state, but it is generally harder to prove a case when the subject of the alleged defamation is famous. Nonetheless, it is possible to do and, generally, the elements that must be proven are as follows:

  • A statement was made
  • The statement was published
  • The statement caused the plaintiff injury
  • The statement was false, and
  • The statement was not privileged

To prove defamation, Heard will have to show that the things Stanhope said are false and harmed her reputation. In support of this, her lawsuit describes physical abuse by Depp, and states that she has documented her husband's violence, "including numerous photographs of bruises and injuries caused by Depp's abuse."

Heard argues that Stanhope wrote the article to destroy her career and reputation, both of which she has worked hard to develop. Maybe he got the message that messing with Amber Heard is a bad idea, or maybe Stanhope is just working on a response. Either way, the outspoken comedian has yet to comment on this defamation lawsuit.

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