Legal question re offsetting tort justments (Depp/Heard related)

Suppose A & B sue each other in court for some sort of tort, which may or may not be slander/libel (no difference, I would think). A is awarded $2M against B; B is awarded $10M against A. So it would seem at first glance that A writes B an $8M check.

But suppose A appeals the $10M judgment and B does not appeal the $2M judgment. What happens while A’s appeal is being heard? Does B have to write A a $2M check and hope to get it back plus another $8M if A’s appeal is rejected? Or can B hold onto the $2M verdict money until A’s appeal has reached final status?

Assuming B pays upfront, that might leave room for A to take the money and run, in the form of bankruptcy laws. E.g. buy a $2M mansion in a state which protects homes in bankruptcy, then declare bankruptcy against the $10M appeal, and keep the $2M regardless of the outcome of the appeal.

As it happens, in the specific case of Heard/Depp, I just read that Depp is also appealing the verdict against him, so I assume that’s on hold too. But I fell to wondering about what happened had he not done so.

In most jurisdictions you can ask the court to stay the judgment pending appeal. If it’s stayed, it’s not payable until the appeal is disposed of. If it’s not stayed the judgment would be due after the judgment becomes final (30 days in my jurisdiction). I’m not a bankruptcy attorney so I’ll leave that to someone else, but because defamation is an intentional tort, I don’t think it’s dischargeable in bankruptcy. In most instances where there are counter-judgments and one party appeals, the other party will also appeal.

The point in this hypothetical is that the $2M judgment was not appealed, so what you write wouldn’t apply.

I don’t know if the debt is dischargeable, but the creditors can’t get certain assets. Something like Florida’s Homestead exemption, which worked so well for OJ Simpson, another guy who committed an intentional tort.

What is FL Homestead Exemption and how does it help O.J. Simpson? – G&R Law (

20 Years After OJ Simpson Murders Does Anyone Remember the Bankruptcy Case That Followed? (