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troung
30 Jul 14,, 00:53
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Jesse Ventura Wins Defamation Case

By MONICA DAVEYJULY 29, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/us/jesse-ventura-chris-kyle-navy-seal-book-lawsuit.html?_r=0

ST. PAUL — Jesse Ventura, the former wrestler and Minnesota governor, was defamed when a former member of the Navy SEALs wrote a book about an encounter he said he had with Mr. Ventura in a bar eight years ago, a federal jury here found on Tuesday.

Although verdicts in such cases are customarily unanimous, both sides agreed to a split verdict. The verdict of 8 to 2 was reached after more than a week of deliberations. Jurors awarded Mr. Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for what was termed the author’s unjust enrichment.
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Mr. Ventura, 63, had sued the estate of Chris Kyle, the former member of the SEALs, saying that his book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” included passages about Mr. Ventura that were false and defamatory. Mr. Ventura, an outspoken and colorful figure, stunned the nation by winning election as governor of Minnesota against two well-known candidates from the traditional parties. He was governor from 1999 to 2003.

During two weeks of testimony in a federal courtroom in St. Paul, jurors heard a videotaped deposition from Mr. Kyle, who defended his writings as accurate. The jurors were presented an array of statements Mr. Ventura made on topics like religion and war over many years, and defense lawyers suggested that his reputation was already deeply complicated. Most of all, the jurors heard from witnesses with varying memories of one evening in a California bar in 2006 – the scene from the book that Mr. Ventura contended was false.

Mr. Ventura, who served years ago on a Navy underwater demolition team, acknowledged that he was inside the bar – a place frequented by special Navy units like the SEALs - on the night Mr. Kyle described in his book. But Mr. Ventura vehemently denied claims in the book that he had made derogatory statements about fellow members of the military while in the bar, or had said at one point during the evening that the SEALs deserved “to lose a few.”

In his deposition, Mr. Kyle said Mr. Ventura had indeed made such comments, and that Mr. Kyle had ended the conversation by punching Mr. Ventura as he described in the book. Several witnesses for Mr. Kyle said that they had overheard the former governor’s negative comments or had seen him on the ground following an altercation, while witnesses for Mr. Ventura said they saw no such confrontation that night.

Mr. Ventura was not named in the book, which came out in 2012. The chapter on the bar scene referred to a celebrity named “Scruff Face.” But Mr. Kyle said during media interviews after the book’s release that he was referring to Mr. Ventura.

Mr. Ventura said his reputation among military members had been harmed and that his income had been affected as entertainment offers dropped off after the release of the book. Jurors were shown a graph of Mr. Ventura and his wife’s gross income, which ranged from more than $3 million some years to less than $200,000 in 2012.

Mr. Kyle died in a shooting in Texas last year after the book had been published and after Mr. Ventura filed suit. Mr. Ventura continued the lawsuit at that point, pursuing the executor of Mr. Kyle’s estate, his widow, Taya. That irked some members of the military, Ms. Kyle’s lawyers said, who thought Mr. Ventura was pushing the case too far.

Mr. Ventura’s role as a public figure – he has been a wrestler, governor and author, and is now the host of a digital video show, “Off the Grid” – complicated matters at trial. A higher legal standard is required for a public figure to prove defamation. To meet the higher standard and prove actual malice in such cases, lawyers need to show, for instance, that an author knew that what he was writing was false, legal experts said.

All along, Mr. Ventura has said that his lawsuit is not about money. He said he never would have gone to court had Mr. Kyle admitted in public that he made up the story of the bar fight. Mr. Ventura said he really just wanted an apology and to clear his name. When that did not happen, he told jurors, he felt he was left with no other choice but to sue. “I was handcuffed,” he testified.

Triple C
30 Jul 14,, 11:37
A very stupid law suit for JV. Why would anyone want to sue a SOCOM veteran over a bar fight that may or may not have happened? Win or lose, this will only make the purported ass-kicking more well-known.

gf0012-aust
30 Jul 14,, 11:40
poor form going after the estate for recovery - as thats the end state

Albany Rifles
30 Jul 14,, 14:52
Believe the suit was long before MR Kyle's death.

And as a public figure MR Ventura's name and reputation are his livelihood. He had to clear his name.

That said, a tempest in a teapot.

TopHatter
30 Jul 14,, 18:43
Believe the suit was long before MR Kyle's death.

And as a public figure MR Ventura's name and reputation are his livelihood. He had to clear his name.

That said, a tempest in a teapot.

I find the idea of ruining or hurting somebody's legitimate livelihood to be abhorrent.

On the other hand, Jesse's livelihood these days seems to be making money off of perpetuating conspiracy theories.

So my compassion is limited. Almost nonexistent in fact.

Albany Rifles
30 Jul 14,, 19:12
I find the idea of ruining or hurting somebody's legitimate livelihood to be abhorrent.

On the other hand, Jesse's livelihood these days seems to be making money off of perpetuating conspiracy theories.

So my compassion is limited. Almost nonexistent in fact.

Joo, I never said he was making an honorable livlihood....

TopHatter
30 Jul 14,, 22:44
Joo, I never said he was making an honorable livlihood....

Good point! :)

troung
31 Jul 14,, 05:13
Ventura is a weirdo and the Seal seems to have had truth issues. Guess he can fund his 2016 presidential campaign.


http://www.twincities.com/ci_22926041/slain-navy-sniper-ventura-foe-was-he-liar

So far, though, lawyers for Kyle have presented only one person who has sworn under oath that he saw Kyle punch Ventura. And Ventura's lawyers have presented sworn statements from several people who said it never happened.

In a legal memorandum filed in the case in November, Olsen outlined several versions of the story -- some with contradictory details -- told by Kyle or others who claimed they were there. Those versions appear in early drafts of the book, in the final version, in media interviews, in written responses to Ventura's questions and in sworn depositions given by Kyle and others.
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"He turned around and reached under his winter coat instead, into his waistband. With his right hand, he grabbed his Colt 1911. He fired two shots under his left armpit, hitting the first man twice in the chest. Then he turned slightly and fired two more times, hitting the second man twice in the chest. Both men fell dead.

"Kyle leaned on his truck and waited for the police."

Mooney has written that Kyle told him the incident was true. Kyle claimed that it was caught on the gas station's surveillance video, and that when police arrived, he gave them a phone number to call, although he wouldn't say who the number belonged to.

Mooney wrote that Kyle told him the officers called the number, "were very understanding" and let him go.

Luttrell wrote that the incident "never made the news, since the town involved didn't want the publicity."

But Mooney and other reporters have been unable to corroborate the story. Mooney pinpointed the approximate locale, at a gas station near Cleburne on U.S. 67 south of Dallas, but local officials up and down the highway told him they'd never heard of the incident.

Mooney said he's been unable to find any police reports or any other records indicating the incident or anything similar took place.

Borger said the story has no bearing on Ventura's claims about Kyle's veracity. "I'm not seeing the connect between that story and lawsuit," he said.

Olsen maintains the story fits a pattern not unlike the punch story.

"He had a parade of witnesses that were supposed to back up his story, and nobody saw it," Ventura's lawyer said of Kyle's alleged punch. "Nobody heard the words spoken; nobody saw the actual fight. It's a story that took on a life of its own after a bunch of young guys went out drinking that night."


July 30, 2014 4:54 PM
Justice for Jesse: Ventura Was Right in His Lawsuit
People beating up on The Body are ignoring facts and basic fairness.
By A. J. Delgado

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/384176/justice-jesse-ventura-was-right-his-lawsuit-j-delgado
nts
99

Jesse Ventura, former NAVY Seal (yes, he really was), pro-wrestler, Minnesota governor, and TV host, prevailed Tuesday in his defamation suit against the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. A jury awarded Ventura $1.845 million stemming from a passage in Kyle’s 2012 book American Sniper, in which Kyle recounts a 2006 fight inside a bar after a fallen serviceman’s wake. Kyle wrote that he and his group encountered a character named “Scruff Face,” who insulted George W. Bush, slammed the Iraq War, and even added the horrific sneer that SEALS “deserved to lose a few.” A fight ensued and, according to Kyle, “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.” He added that Scruff Face reportedly had a black eye the next day.

Kyle should have perhaps left it at that. But during his book tour stop on the Opie and Anthony show, he identified “Scruff Face” as none other than Jesse Ventura. He repeated the claim again in another interview with Fox News.
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The news transformed Ventura into the most hated men in America, and persona non grata in the military and veteran communities. TV-show deals for Ventura, who had developed a career as a television host with a penchant for exploring conspiracy theories, reportedly dried up as a result.

But then a curious thing happened: Ventura immediately came forth, not issuing the standard press release with a banal denial but rather resolutely and categorically denying he ever made such statements, and affirming that he was never knocked in that California bar or was ever in any altercation with Kyle.

Someone here was clearly lying — but who?

For those of us paying attention, Kyle’s story seemed fishy from the get-go. Why would Ventura make such remarks in the company of friends and fellow SEALS, especially those who were at a bar as part of a wake for a fallen warrior? Only a hair-raisingly evil person would say they “deserve to lose a few,” much less to men who have just buried a fellow soldier. While Ventura has been quite publicly critical of both Bush and much U.S. policy (and, for the record, I am not excusing his views), hatred of individual servicemen is a whole other ballgame.

But, this was Chris Kyle, a war hero (!), and thus all blindly believed him.

Ventura asked for a retraction and an apology. He received none. So he proceeded with a defamation lawsuit.

Legal experts claimed Ventura had no shot. A widow crying on the stand? Too sympathetic. A decorated war hero who was tragically killed (in an unrelated accident after Ventura filed suit)? Too sympathetic. Ventura was facing an almost insurmountable uphill battle in an already tricky area of the law.

Once the trial actually began, however, the truth began to emerge. For instance, Kyle, who sat for a lengthy video deposition prior to his death, was inconsistent in his story, described by one local reporter with the following headline: “In video deposition, author trips up on fight details in Ventura libel suit.” The Minneaopolis Star-Tribune describes the testimony:

Afternoon testimony may have shifted some sympathy to Ventura’s side. In the deposition, videotaped a year before his death, Chris Kyle said he could not remember who told him that Ventura had hit his head when he fell to the sidewalk, could not recall how he learned that Ventura had a black eye, and conceded that tables did not go “flying” during the 2006 confrontation in a bar near San Diego, which he described in his book “American Sniper.”

After a thorough trial, in which the jury listened to multiple witnesses from both sides, the jury found in favor of Ventura, finding Kyle had indeed defamed the former wrestler. The court awarded Ventura more than $1.8 million (far lower than the amount Ventura sought), consisting of $500,000 for defamation damages and an additional $1.3 million for “unjust enrichment” (meaning that Kyle and his estate wrongly profited from said defamation). The book publisher’s libel insurance will cover the $500,000.

Social media, even journalists, became downright hysterical, insulting Ventura and making knee-jerk defenses of Kyle — so hysterical, in fact, that facts and logic were outright nonexistent.

Consider a few of the frantic claims, along with the facts:

MYTH: He sued a widow! What a monster!

CNN’s Anderson Cooper got in on the outrage game, tweeting: “I cannot believe that Jesse Ventura successfully sued the widow of a fallen Navy SEAL. Has he no shame?”

Whoa, there. Ventura sued Kyle in 2012. Kyle died, tragically, about a year later. The lawsuit then shifted to Chris Kyle’s estate, for which his wife, Taya, is the executor. It is utterly normal for a lawsuit to shift onto the estate, especially when the estate has profited from the issue in dispute. Considering Taya herself has profited from the book (earnings are estimated at a whopping $6 million, thanks to royalties and rights), it stands to reason that the shift is appropriate.

Consider this: A decorated veteran publishes a book saying he fought with someone in a bar after hearing the man say he worshiped the devil and/or thinks child molesters are fine. During the book tour, the author is asked to identify the monster and names you. It makes headlines, helping propel the book’s sales. You file a defamation suit and, roughly a year later, the author/veteran unexpectedly dies. His multimillion dollar estate goes to his wife, an estate largely consisting of profits from the book that defamed you. Do you drop the suit?

Of course not.

MYTH: The jury must have gotten it wrong.

Yes, juries sometimes get it wrong. (Though, statistics show, not often – if you want stupidity, check out judge’s findings.) But common sense would tell you that Ventura’s case must have been exceptionally strong and Kyle’s case extremely weak if the jury held in favor of Ventura. Defamation is notoriously hard to prove, and juries do not easily find against a young widow (who cried on the stand multiple times) or a fallen war hero, let alone both.

MYTH: It’s just a case of he said vs. he said so we have no way of knowing who lied.

Actually no. There were multiple witnesses, called by both sides. Clearly, the jury found Ventura’s witnesses believable and not Kyle’s.

In video deposition, author trips up on fight details in Ventura libel suit | Star Tribune (http://www.startribune.com/local/266448121.html)

But afternoon testimony may have shifted some sympathy to Ventura’s side. In the deposition, videotaped a year before his death, Chris Kyle said he could not remember who told him that Ventura had hit his head when he fell to the sidewalk, could not recall how he learned that Ventura had a black eye, and conceded that tables did not go “flying” during the 2006 confrontation in a bar near San Diego, which he described in his book “American Sniper.”

While calmly stating that the fight had indeed occurred and that he had punched Ventura in the face, Kyle also conceded that Ventura may not have used a vulgarity in describing former President George W. Bush, which Kyle wrote in the book was one of the reasons he struck him.
In the Crosshairs - The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/06/03/in-the-crosshairs)

Police officers arrived at the scene. When they ran Kyle’s license, Mooney wrote, something unusual occurred: “Instead of his name, address, and date of birth, what came up was a phone number at the Department of Defense. At the other end of the line was someone who explained that the police were in the presence of one of the most skilled fighters in U.S. military history.” According to Kyle, security cameras documented the episode.

Like Mooney, I also heard many of Kyle’s friends and associates tell this story. Details varied, but the ending was the same: Kyle drove away without being charged and, as Mooney put it in a related blog post, later received “e-mails from police officers all over the country, thanking him for ‘cleaning up the streets.’ ” Mooney never saw the security tape or found other corroborating evidence, such as police files or a coroner’s report for the dead carjackers. “Consider this story confirmed by the man himself,” he wrote in the blog post, in which he described Kyle as a “true American badass” and a “real-life action hero.”

There is cause to be skeptical. The counties of Erath, Somervell, and Johnson cover the stretch of highway where the incident supposedly happened. Tommy Bryant, the sheriff of Erath County, told me that he could “guar-an-damn-tee it didn’t happen here.” Greg Doyle, the sheriff of Somervell County, said that he had “never heard” the story, which he found “kinda shocking,” and added, “It did not occur here.” Bob Alford, the sheriff of Johnson County, told a local reporter, “If something like that happened here I would have heard of it, and I’m sure you all at the newspaper would have heard of it.” These denials do not automatically disprove the story, of course. And it’s true that certain operatives, from certain government offices and agencies, drive government-registered vehicles whose license plates prompt civilian authorities to contact a call center in the event of an accident or a traffic stop. But a SEAL with extensive experience in special-mission units told me that the notion of such a provision being in place for a former SEAL driving a private vehicle was “bullshit.”
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He and another sniper travelled to New Orleans, set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Three people shared with me varied recollections of that evening: the first said that Kyle claimed to have shot thirty men on his own; according to the second, the story was that Kyle and the other sniper had shot thirty men between them; the third said that she couldn’t recall specific details.