The Legal Tea
The Legali(teas) of Today’s Pop Culture:
Why is Johnny Depp in Fairfax County, VA?
In December of 2018, Johnny Depp filed a complaint in Fairfax County, Virginia for defamation regarding an opinion piece written by Amber Heard and published by The Washington Post. In the op-ed, Heard never mentioned Depp by name, but described great detail the backlash she received after she spoke out about her experience with Depp and domestic abuse. Depp, however, believes that there is no denying she is referring to him. Depp’s attorneys stand by his claim that he never abused her, stating Heard’s allegations were “part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.”
In April 2019, Heard, through her attorneys, attempted to move the case from Fairfax County, Virginia to California, arguing that because she wrote the op-ed in Los Angeles the courts in California would have jurisdiction. Heard’s attorneys also claimed California was the appropriate forum as the parties and relevant witnesses reside there.
Unfortunately for Heard, Judge White held on July 25, 2019, that the case belongs in Virginia, saying “The Washington Post’s online edition is created on a digital platform in Virginia and routed through servers in Virginia… Ms. Heard submitted her op-ed to The Washington Post to be published online... The last event to make Ms. Heard liable for the alleged defamatory statements in her op-ed was uploading it to the internet. Using the servers located in Springfield, Virginia, The Washington Post posted it to the internet on December 18, 2018. Therefore, Mr. Depp’s cause of action arises in Virginia.”
Virginia is one of the few states which has a “lex loci delicti” rule. As complicated as that may sound, it simply means, the law of the place where the wrong occurred will apply. In this case, the wrongdoing was the op-ed piece in The Washington Post, which is printed in Fairfax County Virginia. Therefore, the laws of Virginia will apply, giving Fairfax County jurisdiction over the case.
ABOUT ALYSSA DAVIES
Alyssa Davies is an attorney in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Alyssa maintains a general civil practice where she handles a wide variety of litigation matters. Alyssa is involved in the firm’s estates and trust litigation representing individuals, families, guardians, nonprofit entities, and corporate fiduciaries, concerning will and trust contests, insurance beneficiaries, estate, probate, guardianship disputes, and complex business issues.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we focus on furthering our clients’ objectives and provide timely services and within budget, all while focusing on the clients’ interests and goals.
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States. With over 230 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well-positioned to meet dynamic businesses' needs, as well as the needs of the people who own and operate them. We also provide representation of individuals and families in diverse matters ranging from estate planning and asset protection to intellectual property structuring and entrepreneurial start-ups. Our International Group provides clients with a broad range of services for transactions and dispute representation for clients worldwide, including Europe, Canada, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
At Offit Kurman, we distinguish ourselves by the quality, breadth, and global reach of our legal services — as well as our unique operational structure, which encourages a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurialism. The same approach that makes our firm attractive to legal practitioners interested in representing clients in the middle market, also gives clients access to experienced counsel in almost every area of the law and in many jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad
Subscribe and follow us on our Blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. You can also sign up to receive LawMatters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
DELAWARE | MARYLAND | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | NORTH CAROLINA | PENNSYLVANIA |SOUTH CAROLINA | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON, DC