Former Gov. Jesse Ventura should be sanctioned for not producing documentation of his military service in his lawsuit claiming the book “American Sniper” defamed him, an attorney representing the author’s estate alleges in court documents.
A hearing on the sanction request is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan.
Ventura’s attorney said the former governor has lost his records, which date to the 1970s.
Ventura is suing the estate of Chris Kyle, author of “American Sniper,” who wrote that he punched a man named “Scruff Face,” whom he later identified as Ventura, in a California bar in 2006 after Ventura allegedly made disparaging remarks about President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Kyle was subsequently killed in an unrelated incident.
Ventura’s suit claims the bar fight never happened and the story hurts his reputation.
In court filings this month, attorney John Borger, representing Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, asserts that Ventura said he was “in the Naval Special Forces Underwater Demolition Team from September 1969 to December 1973 and was assigned to the Naval Special Forces SEAL Team 1 Reserve status from December 1973 to September 1975.”
Despite a 2012 court order compelling Ventura to produce all service records confirming the nature and dates of his military service, Borger says that Ventura supplied only one military record that he marked “confidential” that consisted of a one-page record of discharge, effective Dec. 10, 1973. He produced no records of military service from December 1973 to September 1975.
Borger asked the court to sanction Ventura by prohibiting him from offering any evidence or testimony of “alleged military service after December 10, 1973” during the upcoming trial.
In a response filed Wednesday, Court J. Anderson, an attorney for Ventura, said the former Minnesota governor’s military career “ended nearly forty years ago and most of the documents evidencing that career no longer exist.” He said that Ventura “cannot be sanctioned for failing to produce documents that have been lost to time.”
Sanctions are inappropriate, he wrote, and if defense attorneys want to make an issue of the lack of documentation of his service, they can raise it in cross-examination at the trial, which is scheduled next May.