Former Gov. Jesse Ventura filed suit Monday against HarperCollins, the New York publisher of the book that a federal jury in St. Paul said had defamed him.
In July Ventura won $1.8 million from the estate of Chris Kyle, the late Navy SEAL who wrote the bestselling memoir “American Sniper,” which included a subchapter about an alleged California bar fight between him and a man he called “Scruff Face” and later identified as Ventura.
Ventura, who is also a former member of a SEAL unit, successfully argued that the bar fight and disparaging remarks he made against Navy SEALs attributed to him in the book had never occurred.
The new lawsuit says the publicity and controversy “generated by the false and defamatory story about Ventura substantially increased sales of ‘American Sniper,’ thereby generating millions of dollars in revenues and profits for Harper Collins.”
“American Sniper” has been turned into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper with a limited release in theaters on Dec. 25. There has been no indication that the incident involving Ventura is included in the movie.
Kyle was killed in an unrelated incident after the book was published in 2012, and Ventura continued the suit against the estate, headed by Kyle’s widow, Taya.
Ventura’s attorneys presented evidence at the trial that the book permanently damaged his reputation among former SEALs, with whom he had a long and friendly association.
Taya Kyle’s attorneys have appealed the verdict to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ventura notes in the new suit that U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, who had presided at the trial, had defended the jury verdict in a subsequent order in which he said that Ventura had convinced the jury that the book sales had benefited from the defamation of Ventura.
The suit was filed by David Olsen, who was Ventura’s lead attorney in the defamation trial.
In the suit, Olsen asks for $150,000 but it is anticipated he will seek a lot more in settlement discussions that normally precede a trial.
Olsen did not return a reporter’s request for comment.
The suit was filed in federal court and is now a public document. However, Erin Crum, HarperCollins vice president of corporate communications, said the company’s attorneys had not seen the suit, and she had no comment.