A judge denied Johnny Depp's motion to dismiss Amber Heard's defamation counterclaim on Tuesday.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor is suing his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed in which she called herself a public figure representing abuse. She subsequently countersued him, claiming that his then-lawyer Adam Waldman defamed her and ruined her career by calling her abuse allegations a "hoax".
After Heard's legal team rested their case amid the ongoing trial on Tuesday morning, Depp's team promptly filed the motion to dismiss her countersuit.
According to Variety, his attorney Ben Chew argued that Waldman was expressing his opinion and therefore did not commit defamation. He also insisted that there is no evidence to suggest Depp was aware of Waldman's statements.
"He did believe, and will to his dying day, that Ms. Heard's claims of abuse were patently false," Chew said of Waldman.
In response, the Aquaman star's lawyer Ben Rottenborn stated that Waldman was acting on Depp's behalf, and so the actor was responsible for his conduct. Rottenborn argued that the decision should be left to the jury.
"The counterclaim statements are 100 per cent false," Rottenborn said. "There was no hoax perpetrated. Mr. Depp is an abuser who abused Ms. Heard. She did not conspire with her friends to create a hoax. She did not create a hoax herself."
Judge Penney Azcarate denied Depp's motion, saying it was not up to her "to measure the veracity or the weight of the evidence" and ruled that the jury should decide the outcome of both lawsuits.
Heard's attorneys made a similar motion to dismiss Depp's defamation case earlier in the trial but that was denied too.
The trial continues this week, with closing arguments scheduled for Friday.