You can’t always get what you want, but attorneys for former Gov. Jesse Ventura got most of it when it came to reimbursement for legal fees they incurred in their successful defamation lawsuit against the estate of the late Chris Kyle.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle has ordered the Kyle estate to pony up $40,989 to the Ventura legal team.
Kyle rejected only $5,213 in expenses, but some of them are notable.
For those of you who were in hibernation last summer and missed the brouhaha: Ventura sued the estate over a bestselling book Kyle wrote, “American Sniper.” In it, Kyle claimed he punched Ventura in a bar after the ex-governor made some hostile remarks about Navy SEALs and other comments.
Ventura denied it happened and sued Kyle, who was killed in an unrelated incident after the book was published. Ventura continued the suit against Kyle’s estate and prevailed at a jury trial in St. Paul.
Besides the $1.8 million awarded by the jury, Ventura was entitled to legal expenses.
The estate objected to some of the costs, among them $120 in baggage fees incurred by one witness, Tyrel Ventura, the former governor’s son, who carried two suitcases each way from Washington, D.C., on Delta Air Lines. Judge Kyle (no relation) ruled that the estate should not have to pay that bill. He also rejected a bill for two extra days of witness fees ($80) by Tyrel, who stayed for the weekend after he testified.
However, the judge did allow a married couple, Bill and Charlene DeWitt, who were both Ventura witnesses, to be put up in separate hotel rooms, rather than a single room. The estate claimed Ventura’s lawyers provided no explanation, but Judge Kyle said none was necessary.
He wrote that the law says a housing allowance shall be paid to a witness when an overnight stay is required. Added the judge, “The statute makes no distinction between married and unmarried witnesses.”
The case is not over yet.
The Kyle estate has appealed the verdict to the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals.
Randy Furst 612-673-4224 Twitter: @randyfurst