Briefing

Johnny Depp's assault lawsuit settlement, explained

The actor narrowly avoided another high-profile legal battle

Weeks after the end of the explosive Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, the Pirates of the Caribbean star has reached a settlement with a film crew member who accused him of assault. Here's everything you need to know: 

Who is Gregg Brooks? 

Gregg Brooks, who worked as a location manager on Johnny Depp's film City of Liesfiled a lawsuit against the actor in 2018, alleging he assaulted him on the set the year before. 

Brooks said in his complaint that one evening during shooting, he told the first assistant director that they would need to wrap up filming outside, as their permit would soon expire. The director, Brad Furman, allegedly instructed Brooks to relay this to Depp, but Brooks said he was concerned the actor would "become upset," so he approached an on-set LAPD officer for assistance. 

Brooks alleged that before he could reach the officer, Depp "began attacking him, angrily screaming in his face 'Who the f--k are you? You have no right to tell me what to do!'" As Brooks tried to explain the situation, he claimed Depp continued screaming, "I don't give a f--k who you are and you can't tell me what to do!" While screaming, Depp allegedly "angrily and forcefully" punched Brooks twice in the ribs. The complaint claimed Brooks "maintained his composure," leading Depp to yell, "I will give you $100,000 to punch me in the face right now!"

Depp continued to "scream and berate" Brooks in front of the crew until the actor's bodyguards removed him, the complaint alleged. It also claimed Depp smelled of alcohol during the incident and that Brooks believes the actor had been drinking and using drugs on set that day. In deposition testimony, Brooks said they subsequently "hugged it out" and took a picture together, according to Variety

But the Monday after the alleged assault, Brooks claimed he was told to sign a statement agreeing not to sue the production, and when he declined to do so, he was fired. He alleged the incident affected his ability to get work. Furman was also named in the complaint, which alleged assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful termination, and more. 

What has Depp said? 

In 2018 legal documents, Depp's attorneys claimed Brooks "provoked" the actor's actions and "willfully and maliciously acted out and conducted his activities in such a manner as to cause" Depp to "fear for his safety," according to The Wrap. Depp attorney Adam Waldman denied the "sham allegations" in a statement to The Wrap, saying Depp "never touched the person suing him, as over a dozen witnesses present will attest." 

According to Variety, Depp was expected to testify he didn't assault Brooks but confronted him "after he saw Brooks acting belligerently toward a woman on set," which Brooks' attorney denies. 

What have other crew members said?

City of Lies' director, Brad Furman, defended Depp in a statement to Page Six in 2018. "Johnny Depp is a consummate professional, great collaborator, and a supporter of other artists," he said. "He always treats the crew and people around him with the utmost respect. Movies can be stressful, and nonevents often become exaggerated. We all love stories — there isn't one here."

Script supervisor Emma Danoff also submitted a declaration saying she witnessed the incident and it didn't occur the way Brooks claims, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Danoff claimed that while they were shooting outside, Brooks berated a homeless Black woman with "racial and derogatory slurs" and that Depp confronted Brooks about it. "Mr. Depp said to Mr. Brooks, 'You can't talk to her like that. You think she is something less than you? Who do you think you are? How dare you?'" Danoff alleged. She also said she has dozens of time-stamped photos that prove Depp never punched Brooks. 

In 2018, The Daily Beast spoke with three other crew members who backed up Danoff's version of events. "They had a little moment, there weren't punches, there wasn't anything, just were in each others' face for a second," Danoff told the outlet. In response, Brooks' lawyer, Arbella Azizian, told The Daily Beast, "[M]y client was punched. He was punched twice in the rib cage and this was witnessed …  I suggest you use a different source to get a more accurate assessment of what happened on set." 

Is the lawsuit headed to trial?

After facing numerous delays, Depp's trial was scheduled to begin in Los Angeles on July 25, another high-profile legal battle for the actor after he successfully sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation.

But just two weeks before the start date, Depp and Brooks reached a settlement agreement on July 11, Deadline reports. Terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, but the case is now expected to be dismissed. The agreement calls for Depp to meet the settlement terms by the end of August; if he doesn't, the case could be re-opened, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Camille Vasquez, the attorney who became a viral sensation among Depp supporters during the Heard trial, represented him in the case. Brooks' lawyer previously told The Sun that Depp's win in the Heard case had "no relevance" to this lawsuit. "Brooks' case is not about two Hollywood celebrities involved in a toxic relationship," the attorney added. "It is about the assault of a hard-working film crew member by the star of the production."

What's next for Depp? 

Though Depp has apparently resolved this outstanding assault case, there is still the matter of whether Heard's push for a new trial in their defamation case will be successful. 

In June, a jury found Heard defamed Depp in a 2018 op-ed about domestic abuse. But Heard's legal team is asking the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming one of the jurors in the case was not actually called for jury duty, citing a discrepancy in their birth year. Depp's team has dismissed this, saying Heard has "identified no legitimate basis to set aside in any respect the jury's decision." 

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