Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was awarded more than $1.8 million in damages after a federal jury found he was defamed in a book written by an ex-Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, according to a report in Reuters.Kyle wrote in his best-selling book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” that he got into a fight with a man who made disparaging remarks about the Navy SEALS. Kyle later identified the man as Ventura and said in a videotaped deposition played for jurors he punched Ventura. Ventura said the fight never happened. In an 8-2 decision, the jury awarded Ventura $1.35 million for unjust enrichment and $500,000 for defamation. Kyle was killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a troubled Iraq war veteran he was trying to mentor, and so the judgment is against Kyle’s estate.
Ventura said his reputation was left in shambles by the passage in a book. Lawyers for Ventura argued that Ventura’s income averaged about $1 million a year in the decade prior to the release of Kyle’s book but that it dropped about 90 percent after the book came out. Lawyers for Kyle’s estate contended Ventura’s career was already fading and the defamation case was aimed at keeping his name in the headlines at the expense of an ex-SEAL who served his country with honor.
Attorney for Kyle’s estate, John Borger, said his side was disappointed by the verdict and would “evaluate all our options” regarding an appeal.
To read more about the case, click here.
To learn more about defamation law in Illinois, click here.
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