In Minnesota on Monday, a the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a $1.8 million judgment awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who says he was defamed in the late author Chris Kyle’s bestselling book “American Sniper.”
The court rejected the jury’s 2014 award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment against Kyle’s estate. Kyle, a former SEAL who was the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills, died in 2013.
The majority of the three-judge panel reversed the unjust-enrichment award, saying it fails as a matter of law. The majority also vacated the defamation award, but sent that portion of the case back to court for a new trial.
Kyle claimed in a subchapter called “Punching Out Scruff Face,” to have decked a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, during a fallen SEAL’s wake at a California bar in 2006. He wrote that “Scruff Face” had made offensive comments about the elite force, including a remark that the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq.
Ventura, a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member and ex-pro wrestler, testified at trial that Kyle’s story was a fabrication. Ventura said he never made the comments and that the altercation never happened. He said the book ruined his reputation in the tight-knit SEAL community.
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