A Virginia judge has ruled a contentious lawsuit between Pirates of the Carribean alum Johnny Depp and Aquaman star Amber Heard will be allowed to move forward in the commonwealth. The latest ruling allows Depp and his team to continue their defamation suit against Heard as a result of 2018 Op-Ed posted in The Washington Post by Heard. At the time, Heard's Op-Ed — which made accusations of domestic abuse — didn't name Depp, though it used a timeline that led fans to piece together the bread crumbs.
As it stands now, Nineteenth Circuit Chief Judge Bruce D. White rules Depp not only has the grounds to file suit against Heard, but he can do so in Virginia, where the printing presses for the Post are located. As THR suggests, since the article was also published online on or around when the physical papers were printed, the jurisdiction gets murky, allowing Heard's attorneys to appeal the case further. The main issue at this point, as Heard's team suggests, is the fact Depp's team was able to "forum shop" the lawsuit around trying to find a jurisdiction that would allow it through.
In his ruling opinion, Judge White points out two recent cases in the state. In the case of the now-infamous "Unite the Right" rally, a plaintiff was able to successfully sue defendants who had published posts online accusing the car-driving attacker who plunged his car into a crowd as a "deep state operative."
In the second case, three plaintiffs involved with the Democratic National Committee sued President Donald Trump for allegedly dealing with Russia and it's agents around the 2016 General Election. In this case, the suit wasn't allowed through though the judge did mention the lex loci delicti rule, which directly involves where the posts or defamatory comments were published.
"The publication did not occur until December 18, 2018, when the Op-Ed was uploaded to the internet on The Washington Post's website," White writes in his opinion. "It was only then that the allegedly defamatory statements were read by non-interested third parties... [T]he Court finds that publication occurred in Virginia."1comments
The full opinion can be read here.
Aquaman is now available wherever movies are sold.
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