Jesse Ventura – the Navy SEAL turned pro wrestler, pro wrestler turned actor, actor turned governor, and governor turned crackpot – lost his appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a $1.8 million verdict awarded to him for his defamation case against prolific Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle’s estate.
In 2014, a court awarded Ventura a total of $1.8 million in damages as a result of a story in Kyle’s book, “American Sniper,” in which Kyle describes an altercation between the two former SEALs. Kyle said that Ventura made disparaging comments about other SEALs that had been lost in action, and Kyle ultimately punched him in the face for it. Ventura claims that the incident never occurred, and that its inclusion in the popular book hurt his reputation in the SEAL community.
Another SEAL turned writer, Frumentarius, has already explained why Ventura’s legal battle against the estate of the late Chris Kyle has damaged his reputation within that community far more than any allegations Kyle made in his book could have – as the former governor and conspiracy theorist continues to attempt to cleave money out of Kyle’s widow well after the fight, and one of its fighters, have passed.
The original verdict was in Ventura’s favor, as there was little evidence to suggest that the incident actually took place (though Frumentarius has reported for SOFREP that he knows at least one SEAL that indicated that the story is, in fact, true) but the U.S. Court of Appeals tossed out the majority of Ventura’s award and sent the remainder back for a new trial last year.
At the time, the court ruled that Ventura had attempted to manipulate a larger cash award out of the jurors by suggesting that it would be paid via an insurance policy, and that Kyle’s widow wouldn’t be left with the bill. The court said that Ventura made a “deliberate strategic choice” to gain as much as he could financially from the case “by referencing an impersonal deep-pocketed insurer.”
The Supreme Court did not make any official statements regarding the case on Monday, but chose to leave intact the decision made by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last June. Ventura claims to have spent over a million dollars thus far in an attempt “to clear his name,” though the language chosen by the court of appeals seems to indicate that Ventura’s continued efforts may be more along the lines of a cash-grab and attempt at garnering media attention, something that has waned for Ventura in the years since leaving office as the governor of Minnesota.
If the story Kyle wrote into his book, which served as the basis for the popular 2014 drama by the same name, was untrue, Ventura’s efforts to profit from the unfair portrayal of his character have certainly damaged his reputation among military veterans, many of whom now see his actions as an attack on Taya Kyle, Chris’s wife and veteran family activist. As a veteran writer myself, the idea of my own widowed-wife being dragged through repeated legal battles with someone like Ventura over something I wrote is appalling. If the man truly cared about his perception within the veteran community, he would grasp that and stop chasing dollar signs and headlines at Taya Kyle’s expense.
Now, if the story Kyle wrote in “American Sniper” is true; then continuing to harass the widow of a fallen SEAL would seem to be in keeping with a mentality that led to Kyle punching him in the face in the first place… in which case, none of us should be surprised by this developing story. One can only hope that, regardless of what occurred in the bar that night in 2006, Ventura finally recognizes the harm he’s doing to his own reputation, and to the Kyle family, by continuing to pursue this line of litigation.
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