Johnny Depp Catches a Break in Lawsuit Against Ex-Managers

Judge says that “Pirates of the Caribbean’ star can use testimony from former employee of the management group he’s suing

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Johnny Depp is walking into the weekend with some good news — and we’re not talking about the reviews of his new movie.

“Pirates of the Caribbean” star Depp caught a break in his lawsuit against his former managers on Friday, after a judge ruled that he could use testimony from a former employee of the management firm in an amended complaint.

In a tentative order, a judge shot down The Management Group’s motion to seal allegations stemming from a deposition of the former employee, clearing the way for the actor to use the allegations in his case.

In the order, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the judge noted, “The misconduct Plaintiffs allege potentially raises a question of whether there has been, at the very least, a breach of fiduciary duty by Defendants to Plaintiff. It does not matter whether the new information gained supports an existing claim or a new one, as long as it can be adjudicated. The harm to Defendants, therefore, is not an ‘overriding interest’ outweighing the strong presumption of public accessibility to court records.”

The judge likewise shot down The Management Group’s concerns that the former employer might have perjured herself.

“Finally, Defendants’ arguments that the allegations should be redacted because they are falsehoods or perjury are misplaced. They provide no statutory or jurisprudential support for the proposition that allegations must be sealed if they are based on misrepresentations under oath,” the ruling reads. “It is not appropriate for the Court to seal any allegation that a party argues is false or misleading; were the Court to do so, court proceedings would almost always be completely confidential and hidden from the public, as it is the very nature of litigation that the truth is contested. This result would clearly not be in the public interest.”

Depp sued The Management Group in January, accusing his former managers of “self-dealing and gross misconduct.” Among the misdeeds that Depp, who is seeking $25 million, alleges:  Taking a 5 percent commission of the actor’s income, “in some cases regardless of whether Mr. Depp actually received any income himself or not” — a commission that was “exorbitant, excessive, and far outstripped the actual value of services TMG would be performing for Mr. Depp.”

The firm promptly counter-sued, accusing Depp of living “an ultra-extravagant lifestyle” that he “simply could not afford.”

“[T]hroughout the entire 17-year period that TMG represented Depp, Depp lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle that knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million per month to maintain, which he simply could not afford,” the cross-complaint reads.

Among the ill-considered extravagances alleged in the cross-complaint: Spending $75 million on 14 residences throughout the world; dropping more than $18 million to buy and renovate a 150-foot yacht; and spending $30,000 a month on “expensive wine that [Depp] had flown to him around the world for his personal consumption.”

In a statement provided to TheWrap on Friday, a TMG spokesman branded the former employee as a “serial liar.”

“Johnny Depp and his counsel know that Janine Rayburn is a serial liar who perjured herself during her deposition who also lied on her resume when she applied for a job at The Management Group. Rayburn only worked at TMG for a brief time and was fired seven years ago,” the spokesman said. “Rayburn fully admitted that she has no idea what conversations took place between Depp and TMG regarding Depp’s financial situation. We welcome the opportunity to further question Ms. Rayburn in Court, exposing her many lies.”

In his own statement, Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman said that Team Depp is “gratified” by Friday’s decision, adding that the former employee’s testimony reveals “egregious misconduct” by the Mandels.

“We are gratified by the Judge’s decision to unseal the testimony and supporting documents of the whistleblower who managed Mr Depp’s day to day affairs for the Mandels for over two years,” Wadman said. “Having failed to conceal from the public whistleblower testimony that reveals some of the egregious misconduct Mandel asked her to commit on Mr Depp’s account, the Mandels now predictably focus their efforts on smearing their former employee, just as they have attempted to smear Mr Depp.”

“The Mandels ‘everyone is lying’ defense is crumbling under the mounting body of evidence coming from multiple directions – whistleblowers, forensic accountants, lawyers, and tax experts,” Waldman continued.