MINNEAPOLIS — Attorneys for former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura asked a federal judge Monday to allow his defamation lawsuit against slain "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle to go forward with Kyle's widow as the defendant.
Ventura claims Kyle defamed him to gain notoriety for his best-selling book, "American Sniper." In it, Kyle describes a 2006 bar fight in which he claims he punched someone named "Scruff Face," whom he later identified as Ventura. Ventura, a former Navy SEAL, pro wrestler and host of "Conspiracy Theory" on truTV, claims the fight never happened.
David Bradley Olsen, an attorney for Ventura, said Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, should take her husband's place because Ventura has a fundamental right to protect and repair his reputation. Olsen also argued Kyle's estate will continue to profit from book sales and a recent movie deal.
But Taya Kyle's attorney, John Borger, said Ventura would be better off dropping the case.
"Continuing this action will serve no useful purpose, and likely will promote public perception of Jesse Ventura as someone who has little or no regard for the feelings and welfare of surviving family members of deceased war heroes," Borger wrote in court documents filed last month.
Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, was killed in February along with his friend Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range. Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh has been charged in their deaths.
Olsen said in court documents that the Kyle's description of the 2006 incident is: "a complete fabrication and is a vicious, deliberate, and calculated assault on his character, honor, and reputation that is intended to turn the SEAL and military community, and Americans in general, against him."
Olsen argued it would be unjust to allow Kyle's estate to continue to profit, and noted there is no legal basis for the defense's position.
Borger agreed the law permits Ventura's case to go forward, but said the decision is up to U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who took the arguments under advisement.
Borger wrote in his legal briefs that Kyle swore under oath his story was true, so there will be no retraction or apology.