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“American Sniper” Case Sent Back for New Trial by Appeals Court
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American Sniper

Summary: The lawsuit brought by Jesse Ventura against Chris Kyle’s estate over the claims of defamation has been sent back for a new trial by a federal appeals court.

An award of $1.8 million in damages to be given to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has been thrown out by an appeals court. Ventura has claimed in the trial that he was defamed by the late Chris Kyle in his book “American Sniper.” The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the original ruling and even sent the defamation claim back for a new trial. The federal court ruled that Ventura’s attorneys gave improper remarks and the court “clearly abused its discretion in denying a new trial.”


Kyle is regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills and a former SEAL. He included a subchapter in his book called “Punching Out Scruff Face.” In the subchapter, Kyle describes an encounter with Ventura at a bar in California ten years ago. He claimed to have punched Ventura in the face for offensive comments made against SEALs.

Read Jesse Ventura Dealing with Backlash from Winning Lawsuit Against Former Navy SEAL.

Ventura is a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member that claims the incident never happened and that Kyle’s claims have ruined his reputation with the SEAL community. Kyle gave a sworn videotaped testimony before his death in 2013 that his version of the incident was true.

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The awarded amount was against Kyle’s estate. His widow, Taya Kyle, appealed against the $500,000 defamation award and $1.3 million unjust enrichment award. She asked that the verdict be dismissed or a new trial be given on the grounds of the First Amendment and other reasons.

See Uncovering the Motive in Murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

The three-judge appellate panel found the unjust-enrichment award “enjoys no legal support under Minnesota law.” The judges also vacated the defamation award and sent it back for a new trial. They decided that when the jury heard that the publisher of the book, HarperCollins, had an insurance policy to cover a defamation award and attorney fees, it was improper. The information given by Ventura’s attorneys about this did not allow for a fair trial by referencing a “deep-pocket insurer.”

To you think appeals court made the right ruling? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about Chris Kyle, read Jury Finds Chris Kyle’s Killer Guilty.



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