At the time of his death back in 2013, Chris Kyle was fighting a defamation lawsuit from former Minnesota Governor, WWE wrestler, and Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura.
In Kyle’s “American Sniper,” he tells the story of a 2006 bar fight in which he cold-cocked a guy, identified only as Scruff Face, for saying that SEALs “deserved to lose a few” for fighting in the Iraq War. It wasn’t until an appearance on the Opie & Anthony show that Kyle revealed the scruffy fellow in his story was Ventura.
Naturally, Ventura disputed the story, claiming it was a complete lie. He continued with his lawsuit against Kyle’s estate after his death, meaning Kyle’s wife Tara would be bearing any legal costs.
In 2014, Ventura was awarded $1.845 million in damages – $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment,” and the rest for defamation. Suing a grieving widow to prove you’re not such a bad guy after all – bold strategy, Cotton. The verdict didn’t last too long, and sanity prevailed when an appeals court overturned the judgement in June last year.
The former professional wrestler was smacked down again when his appeal of the appeal was shot down the other day. As the Washington Times reported: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it won’t hear arguments brought on behalf of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura against the estate of slain Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle, leaving a lower court’s dismissal of a $1.8 million defamation verdict.
Mr. Ventura, 65, said the incident never occurred and alleged that his reputation within the SEAL community was damaged as a direct result of Kyle’s accusation. In 2014, a jury trial concluded with Mr. Ventura being awarded $500,000 for defamation and $1.35 million for unjust enrichment.
Last June, however, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals outright reversed the unjust enrichment verdict and vacated and remanded the defamation judgment after agreeing that Mr. Ventura’s legal team damaged the defendant’s chance of a fair trial by telling jurors an insurance policy would cover the cost of damages awarded in court.
The appeals panel’s ruling will now remain intact as a result of the high court’s decision this week, meaning Mr. Ventura may pursue the defamation allegations in District Court again.
Will be finally give it up this time? It’s hard not to tell the guy to just get over it. The book never mentioned him by name in the first place – and how many people do you actually think listened to the Opie and Anthony interview where Kyle said Ventura was the man in the story? It’s doubtful that even a fraction of those who know the story would know Ventura was its antagonist if it wasn’t for him.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]