Amber Heard’s lawyers are trying to halt depositions in a civil dispute between two insurance companies fighting over their financial liability for the $10 million she owes Johnny Depp.
A new filing on Monday says Heard’s lawyers don’t want the case to proceed while she’s appealing the $10 million verdict that a jury in June ordered her to pay Depp for defamation, saying “the continued prosecution of these actions is prejudicial to Ms. Heard’s defense.” Claims involving the New York Marine and General Insurance Co.’s duty to indemnify a judgment “are not ripe unless and until there is a final judgment in the Depp lawsuit,” the filing said.
The lawyers, who include Kayla Robinson of Pasich LLP in Los Angeles, say Heard wasn’t living in the United States when New York Marine sued her, and she still isn’t, “therefore, this court lacks jurisdiction.”
Heard’s new lawyers said they “may move for a protective order” to thwart depositions that New York Marine lawyers want to conduct with the lawyers who represented Heard in Depp’s lawsuit and her countersuit. They also want a hearing scheduled for Nov. 3 to be rescheduled to Dec. 1, “or another date convenient for the court.”
U.S. District Judge George H. Wu in Los Angeles appeared to reiterate the Nov. 3 hearing by notifying counsel they can appear for it by telephone, but he later rescheduled it to Nov. 21 after granting Heard’s request for additional time to respond to the complaint.
New York Marine lawyers, meanwhile, are questioning whether Heard truly wasn’t a United States resident when they sued her, saying they’ve received no evidence showing so. They also don’t want their scheduled depositions to be delayed, saying Heard’s lawyers didn’t mention the jurisdictional question they’re now raising when the depositions were scheduled.
“Accordingly, New York Marine believes it is appropriate for the depositions scheduled in mid-November to proceed as currently scheduled,” according to a scheduling report filed Monday by lawyers for Heard, New York Marine and Travelers Commercial Insurance Co.
Lawyers for Travelers don’t oppose Heard’s stay request, but New York Marine lawyers want to proceed with only their claims regarding the company’s duty to defend Heard, saying it’s fine to do so because of the existing judgment. That’s because New York Marine is seeking a court order declaring that it doesn’t have to pay Heard’s judgment, which will be relevant “if the judgment is affirmed or otherwise not disturbed on appeal.”
The first lawsuit was initiated by Travelers against New York Marine, which is part of ProSight Specialty Group. Both are insurers who represented Heard, and Travelers is accusing New York Marine of trying to shirk its responsibility to “reimburse Travelers for half of the attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses of defending their mutual insured” in the Depp case, “which left Travelers bearing an inequitable portion of the defense.”
New York Marine has filed a counterclaim that argues it doesn’t owe Travelers anything because the lawyer New York Marine wanted Heard to use for the case, Cameron McEvoy, stopped representing her in November 2020 and wasn’t involved in the trial. New York Marine’s complaint says the lawyers retained by Heard and funded by Travelers “refused to cooperate with Cameron McEvoy and deliberately obstructed and prevented Cameron McEvoy’s active involvement in the defense of the insured.”
In the second lawsuit, New York Marine is suing Heard, seeking a court order that it isn’t obligated to pay for her defense.
Lawyers for Travelers called New York Marine’s allegation “provocative” and its theory “aggressive” when asking Wu to consolidate the cases, warning that the legal issue in both cases “will be fact intensive and ProSight has scheduled the Court to try it twice.”
A 2007 George W. Bush appointee, Wu agreed to consolidated the cases for pre-trial purposes on Oct. 20.
Read the full joint scheduling report here.
[Image: Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images]
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