Home » Legal Stuff » Jesse Ventura Successfully Sues ‘American Sniper’ Author for $1.8 Million

Jesse Ventura Successfully Sues ‘American Sniper’ Author for $1.8 Million

31 July 2014

From Time:

Jesse Ventura, the wrestler, politician, and television host won $1.8 million Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle for including an inflammatory anecdote in his book “American Sniper,” prompting publisher HarperCollins to announce it will remove the passage from the book.

A federal jury ruled that Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who was shot dead at a Texas gun range last year, defamed Ventura for including a passage in his bestselling autobiography that described a man saying the Navy SEALs “deserve to lose a few.” In interviews at the time of the book’s release, Kyle identified the man as Ventura.

. . . .

“I was really backed into a corner,” Ventura said, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. “I was left with no choice but to continue the litigation to clear my name, because the story is fabricated. It never occurred, and it accuses me of committing treason. Treason against my own. I am part of the UDT (underwater demolition team) SEAL Community. These are my brothers. We’re a fraternity.”

Legal experts had said that Ventura’s case had to meet a high bar and prove both that Kyle intended “actual malice” toward Ventura, and that he knew that he wrote was untrue.

Link to the rest at Time

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17 Comments to “Jesse Ventura Successfully Sues ‘American Sniper’ Author for $1.8 Million”

  1. All I see on Facebook is vitriol toward The Body for suing, and I don’t get why. Military personnel (or their estates) can’t get sued? Good to know.

    • I think the vitriol is because Ventura continued the lawsuit after Kyle’s death, basically going after a widow and her children.

      Also, I seem to remember hearing that proceeds from the book go toward a non-profit to help veterans. So not only is Ventura going after a war-hero’s widow, but he’s taking money away from a charity that helps war veterans.

      Just sharing what I’ve seen online.

      • I know the particulars. I’m just curious as to why a guy being dead precludes another guy who’s been libeled from seeking a legal remedy.

        • I could support Ventura if he wasn’t going after damages. He served his country, he shouldn’t have to take this kind of flack, but 1.8 million?
          If he really want’s his name cleared, he should have the ruling framed and give the 1.8 mil to that war veteran charity.

          • Chris Armstrong

            I change my mind on this every time I read about it. But right now I think Ventura feels that his image with veterans, and particularly the SEAL community, is damaged beyond repair and the cause is the book. I can kinda see that reasoning.

          • So he was defamed, his reputation suffered a lot, he proved financial damages … and he should give up the awarded damages? Why?

            • The dude (Ventura, used to watch him wrassle on TBS growing up) is a bit nutty, but that doesn’t preclude him from keeping mud from staining his reputation when it comes to something like this. Too bad the author died, but that doesn’t excuse him (nor his estate) from being ruled against in a case like this.

              It’s a valuable lesson as well for rookie authors who might think to trash a real person in a publicly published book.

            • Mostly people seem mad that he’s being cold-hearted about it. Grabbing money from a widow is touchy at best, even if you have a right to it.

              Also, his supposed comments are pretty consistent with his character and stated positions.

        • Part of the issue stems from the fact that Ventura could appear in person in court, while Kyle could not. There are witnesses on both sides here, but a larger than life presence appearing in a state he used to be governor makes an impact the dead guy couldn’t.

          If Ventura wanted to save his reputation, he could’ve dropped this as soon as Kyle died, saying something like, “My dispute was with Chris Kyle, not his family. I’m sorry for their loss.” But that might’ve required…you know…class.

          This episode has done far more to harm Ventura’s reputation than the book ever did.

      • It’s tricky. If that widow and those children got money that was earned under false pretences, should they have the moral right to keep it? The answer seems obvious, but also heartless. That’s how it is sometimes.

  2. The libel had a detrimental effect on Ventura’s reputation and income, and Kyle wouldn’t make a retraction and apology, so you can’t blame Ventura for seeking damages.

    PG and his fellow legal eagles might be interested to know that this was not Ventura’s first successful lawsuit. In 1991, he filed a suit against the World Wrestling Federation (Titan Sports) over video royalties. He won, and it was upheld on appeal several years later.


  3. I don’t know much about the lawsuit, but I thought the biggest thing damaging Ventura’s reputation was Ventura, especially after he became an ineffectual governor. Before I heard about the lawsuit I thought he was an idiot.

    • He might be an idiot (opinion, and it’s one I share, though I’d be more apt to call him a “nutter”), but you can’t go around saying @#$# that isn’t true and hurt his finances.

  4. The thing is, this is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ventura’s reputation has been in the muck for years with the military community. He’s a truther, and that doesn’t sit well with the vast majority of those who served in the military. Then being accused of this really added the cherry on top of all the hate he’s already getting. So I think that’s why he fought so hard to “clear” his name.

    Ironically, though, winning only damaged him further. Now he’s not just “that truther guy,” he’s “that truther guy who sued the widow of a war hero.”

    It’s definitely a no-win situation for him, but he could EASILY save himself a lot of grief (and win over some converts) if he came out tomorrow and say he’ll donate all the proceeds to a military charity once he’s paid off his lawyers.

    But he isn’t, which is, well, unfortunate for him, because Bradley Cooper is starring in a movie about Chris Kyle, and I’m willing to bet that’s going to more than make up for the $1.8 million the widow had to pay to Ventura, though people will probably not remember this part of the story.

    So essentially, Ventura missed out on a perfect opportunity to make himself look good by being, well, himself.

  5. Not for nothing, but many people seem to have a very poor understanding as to the nature of the SEAL community and their extremely tight-knit sense of brotherhood. Most considered Ventura suing Kyle a bad move and in poor taste. To continue that lawsuit against the widow is anathema. Those in the SpecOps community are often critical of each other’s public behavior, because it reflects so strongly on the community as a whole, but families are sacrosanct, to be left out of these sorts of disputes. Furthermore, the families of fallen warriors are treated with the utmost respect and given incredible support within the community. To the SEALs, Ventura has committed a truly heinous, unforgivable act.

    • Going forward with the lawsuit hurt him more than anything Kyle said in the book, and Ventura knew that. It wasn’t about clearing his name, it was about money. And given the witnesses on both sides, I’m surprised any jury would have awarded him anything. I wonder how this will end up if it is appealed.

      • The appellate court is the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis, MO. They are a conservative court and would not put up with the shenanigans that went down in Minneapolis. When Mrs. Kyle appeals, I strongly believe that the verdict will be overturned and Janos’ reputation will be even further ruined (and in my opinion, rightfully so).

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