The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been asked to overturn the verdict in the defamation case of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who was awarded $1.8 million in August by a federal jury in St. Paul.
A notice of the appeal was filed with the circuit court on Tuesday by Taya Kyle, executor of the estate of the late Chris Kyle, author of the bestselling memoir “American Sniper,” which contains a passage that jurors decided defamed Ventura.
Taya Kyle is Chris Kyle’s widow. Chris Kyle was a member of the Navy SEALs and a sniper in the Iraq war who was killed in an unrelated incident in 2013 after the book was published.
The book claimed that Kyle confronted a man he called “Scruff Face,” later identified as Ventura, in a bar where a wake for a SEAL killed in Iraq was taking place. Kyle wrote that he was angered when Ventura criticized the war and President George W. Bush, so he punched Ventura and knocked him down.
Taya Kyle’s attorneys produced witnesses who backed up much of the story, but their accounts differed. Ventura, who is a former member of an underwater demolition team attached to the SEALs, denied he made the remarks or that he was punched. He produced witnesses to support his position.
As is typical of notices of appeal, there were no details of what Taya Kyle’s attorneys will argue before the appeals court. Briefs will be submitted by both sides in the case, there may be oral arguments, and it will be many months before the appeals court will rule.
The book has been turned into a movie, also called “American Sniper,” that is to begin showing on Christmas Day. The film reportedly does not contain any reference to a Ventura bar fight.