Sept. 4: Widow of author, Navy SEAL challenges $1.8 million award to Ventura

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2014 - 6:06 PM

Attorneys challenge $1.8 million award in defamation lawsuit.

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Taya Kyle, widow of late Navy SEAL and author Chris Kyle.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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Attorneys for the estate of dead author Chris Kyle on Thursday asked a federal judge to throw out the $1.8 million libel judgment a jury ordered the estate to pay Jesse Ventura.

The attorneys representing the slain author’s widow, Taya Kyle, want either a new trial or a judgment entered in favor of Kyle’s estate. The judge has not yet ruled on the issue; a hearing will be set.

In late July, following a three-week trial, jurors in U.S. District Court in Minnesota awarded Ventura $500,000 on his defamation claim and nearly $1.35 million for the former governor’s “unjust-enrichment” claim, which held that Kyle and his widow unjustly profited from the defamation.

The court papers filed Thursday claim that the defamation award was legally and factually inappropriate and that Ventura failed to prove that Kyle’s statements were materially false.

The trial involving the wrestler-turned-politician pivoted on whether he was defamed in the bestselling book by a former member of the Navy SEALS, who referred to Ventura not by name but by description in a chapter of the book called “Punching Out Scruff Face.”

In 2012, Ventura sued Kyle, saying Kyle had identified Ventura in a radio talk show as the man he’d punched out. After a three-week trial, jurors voted 8-2 in favor of Ventura.

Thursday’s motion claims other legal remedies should have been exhausted before state law would allow the defamation suit. The papers contend that Ventura did not prove damages and that he failed to show the amount Kyle’s estate was enriched by the defamation.

The motion claims the federal judge did not allow key testimony from a political scientist about Ventura’s reputation, while improperly admitting other evidence.

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750

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