An attorney for former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to step into his defamation case against Taya Kyle, widow of the author of the bestselling memoir, “American Sniper.”
In the brief, David B. Olsen, Ventura’s Minneapolis attorney, argues that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals violated Ventura’s right to trial by jury earlier this year when it overturned Ventura’s successful defamation verdict.
The Eighth Circuit unanimously threw out the $1.35 million award to Ventura for “unjust enrichment,” saying Minnesota law did not permit it. And in a 2-1 decision, it reversed the $500,000 award for defamation, remanding the case to the district court for a new trial on that issue.
Ventura had sued Kyle, widow of author Chris Kyle, saying the book contained a fabricated account of a fight between Kyle and Ventura in a California bar in 2006.
In the writ of certiorari filed with the Supreme Court, Olsen disagrees with the unjust enrichment decision by the appellate court, but focuses his challenge on the defamation decision.
The appeals court ruled that U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, no relation, erred during the trial when he allowed Olsen to ask two employees of HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, about whether it had insurance to cover defamation cases.
Olsen briefly mentioned during closing arguments that testimony, which the appeals court said could have improperly swayed the jury.
Olsen said in his petition there was no evidence of that. He also said Kyle’s attorneys did not raise objections to the insurance comments until after the jury began deliberation, which he said was improper.
It is highly unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Ventura case. It gets about 7,000 requests a year but takes only about 80 cases.