A federal jury in Minnesota has awarded $1.8 million to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura after a trial in which Ventura contended he had been defamed in a memoir by the late military sniper Chris Kyle.
The jury, sitting in St, Paul, was on its sixth day of deliberations when when it returned the verdict on Tuesday morning. A copy of the ruling was not immediately available.
Ventura sued Kyle's estate for what he claims are lies in the SEAL's 2012 book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.” The lies, Ventura's defamation suit claimed, have tarnished his reputation as a patriotic American and hurt his earning potential.
Ventura testified that Kyle invented a story about punching him in a California bar in 2006 after Ventura supposedly made remarks insulting Navy SEALs. The bar, McP's Irish Pub & Grill in Coronado, is a popular spot for Navy SEALs, the elite special operations force. A SEAL training base is nearby.
In his book, Kyle says that in 2006 he punched out someone he describes as a “scruff face” fellow at McP's because he was being disrespectful toward President George W. Bush and the SEALs. At the time, the SEALs had gathered for a wake in honor of Michael Monsoor, a SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006 who later was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In television interviews, and then in a deposition, Kyle identified the “scruff face” as Ventura.
In a short chapter titled “Punching Out Scruff Face,” the book says: “Being level-headed and calm can last only so long. I laid him out. Tables flew. Stuff happened. Scruff Face ended up on the floor.”
Ventura, now 63, sued Kyle. When Kyle, 38, was killed in February 2013 in an incident at a Texas shooting range, Ventura continued the lawsuit against Kyle's estate.