Johnny Depp is feeling "gratified" after a judge ruled that he can continue to pursue his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor filed the lawsuit against the Aquaman star in early 2019 after she described herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse" in an essay for The Washington Post in December 2018.
She countersued last year and tried to get the lawsuit dismissed based on the fact that her ex-husband had lost his libel trial against British tabloid The Sun - which described him as a "wife-beater" - and lost his attempt to appeal the verdict, with the judge ruling that the domestic violence allegations were "substantially true".
However, on Tuesday, Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate published a lengthy opinion letter in which she pointed out the differences between the legal actions in the U.K. and U.S., most notably that Heard was only a witness in the U.K. trial.
"The Court is not persuaded by Defendant's argument that Plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the UK Action," Judge Azcarate wrote, reports Deadline. "Defendant was not a part in the UK action and was not treated as one... Because she was not named a defendant, she was not subject to the same discovery rules applicable to named parties.
"Defendant argues she was in privity with The Sun because they both had the same interest in the case... (However,) The Sun's interests (in the U.K. case) were based on whether the statements the newspaper published were false... Defendant's interests (in the U.S. case) relate to whether the statements she published were false."
Responding to the verdict, Depp's lawyer Benjamin Chew told Deadline, "Mr. Depp is most gratified by the Court's decision."
The case is set to go to trial in April 2022.