A judge has ruled that Johnny Depp's legal case against his former business managers and their company can proceed with information given by a former employee, which the actor's lawyers call a "whistleblower" and the defendants call a "serial liar."
The actor had fired The Management Group and later sued them for $25 million. In January, he sued the firm for $25 million for alleged fraud and mismanagement, claiming that he only learned last year that he is $40 million in debt. He blamed the company for allegedly failing to properly maintain his financial records. The group fired back with a cross-complaint of fraud, claiming his allegations are false.
In March, Depp's attorneys deposed a former TMG employee, Janine Rayburn, and subpoenaed documents from her that included notes she took during her employment at the company. They later said they would file an amended complaint, pleading allegations taken from her deposition and notes.
TMG's lawyers filed an instant motion to seal portions of Depp's attorneys' amended complaint and related pleadings. They argued that the allegations are falsehoods.
The judge ruled Friday that Depp can amend his lawsuit against his former business managers. She also ruled that the documents can be unsealed, stating that for them to be sealed, an "overriding interest," or "serious injury" must be shown and that TMG's attorneys "put forward no clear argument" as to why this should apply to their case.
She also stated, "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."
During her deposition, Rayburn gave her opinion that TMG didn't make Depp aware of his finances, that his manager asked her to notarize the actor's signature when he wasn't present and also asked her to alter a financial statement in connection with a bank loan, The Hollywood Reporter said. Rayburn also testified that she overheard a conversation among Mandel, Depp's sister Christi Dembrowski and attorney Jake Bloom about how they might get the funds to cover his expenses, the outlet said.
"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," a TMG spokesperson told E! News. "Rayburn only worked at TMG for a brief time and was fired seven years ago. 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."
Rayburn has not commented. A source told E! News that the woman worked for the company for more than two years as an account manager.
"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 2 years," Depp's attorney told E! News in statement. "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."