Jesse Ventura, Chris Kyle’s Estate Dismiss ‘American Sniper’ Defamation Case

Chris Kyle was an American veteran who served in the Iraq War as a U.S. Navy SEAL. He was one of the most celebrated figures from that particular conflict, which can be connected to his effectiveness as a sniper that won him a slew of awards and other accolades. As a result, Kyle’s experiences became the basis of a book called American Sniper, which was turned into a movie of the same name by Clint Eastwood.

Why Did Jesse Ventura Launch a Defamation Lawsuit?

In January of 2012, Jesse Ventura launched a lawsuit against Kyle claiming defamation, appropriation, and unjust enrichment. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Ventura was a member of the elite Underwater Demolition Team for the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, who went on to become a successful professional wrestler, a successful politician who was elected the Governor of Minnesota, and a successful media personality who hosts various TV shows. With that said, Ventura was well-known to have been opposed to the Iraq War as well as the Bush administration, which might have had a role in the events that led to the lawsuit.

What happened was that Kyle claimed in his book that he had punched a man who he called “Scruff” at a bar in Colorado, CA on October 12 of 2006, which was where a wake was being held for one of his fellow SEALs. Kyle claimed that he had punched “Scruff” because the man told him that, “You deserved to lose a few” in reference to Kyle’s fellow SEAL. Later, when Kyle appeared on a radio show called Opie and Anthony to promote his book, he further claimed that “Scruff” was Ventura.

Unsurprisingly, Ventura was less than pleased by the claim. He claimed that he had never even met Kyle. Furthermore, he pointed out that if the incident had happened, it would have become well-known in the SEAL community, which would have included both men because of how the Underwater Demolition Team was folded into the SEALs after Ventura had left. Finally, Ventura claimed that he would have never misbehaved in that particular bar because it was owned by a former SEAL who had been his cadre instructor.

What Happened to the Defamation Lawsuit?

As a result, Ventura launched the lawsuit. He won the first trial on a 8-to-2 divided verdict in his favor, which resulted in him being awarded $500,000 for the defamation and more than $1,300,000 for the unjust enrichment. Later, the appeals court remanded the judgement for the defamation for a new trial and reversed the judgement for the unjust enrichment. However, there were signs that the two sides were going to settle, which seem to have been confirmed by the latest news that both sides have agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning that Ventura will not be able to sue again by using the same claim.

This outcome is not particularly unsurprising considering that no one has come out of the process looking good. Kyle was murdered in an unrelated incident in February of 2013, meaning that Ventura received a lot of criticism for fighting a legal battle with the widow of a veteran. Meanwhile, the legal battle has become a permanent part of Kyle’s story, which is in addition to how it inspired a number of interested parties to question the accuracy of the details that Kyle provided in his book. Combined with how frustrating a legal battle can be, it is no wonder that the two sides seem to have decided to settle.


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