After a long week of deliberations, and a once locked jury it was reported today that Jesse Ventura was awarded $1.8 million in defamation damages. Ventura pursued a case that accused a deceased Navy SEAL, and best-selling author of “American Sniper”, Chris Kyle of defamation. The case was filed after Kyle told media that Ventura was the person described in his book who said, “the Navy SEALs deserve to lose a few.”
How can a deceased Navy SEAL be accused of defamation when they’re no longer alive to defend themselves?
The lawsuit was filed just before Kyle passed away, after he was shot last year at a Texas gun range by a fellow veteran. The New York Times reported that Ventura said the “lawsuit is not about money, and that all he really wanted was an apology to clear his name.” But just after Kyle’s death Ventura continued to push the lawsuit, and pursued Kyle’s estate, which was left to Kyle’s wife.
Up until the Navy SEAL’s death, Kyle strongly defended his story that Ventura did make those comments, and that the two had engaged in an altercation. Although the book never mentioned Ventura by name, it referred to the person Kyle punched and laid flat in a bar scene as “Scruff Face.” Kyle later said in interviews that “Scruff Face,” was code name for Ventura. Some reports indicate that Ventura was in Coronado, Calif., for a Navy reunion at that the time indicated in the book, since he use to serve in the Navy as part of their underwater demolition team, but Ventura denies the fight and comments ever happened.
According to RT.com, “during closing arguments last week, Ventura’s Attorney believed that “irreparable harm to Ventura’s reputation,” was made and asked “that $5 million to $15 million,” would settle his loses, although the attorney “believed Kyle’s estate” was worth “more than $6 million.” However, today the jury awarded $1.8 million to Ventura, who originally just wanted an apology -- kinda hard to get word from the dead. Guess time will tell if Ventura's defamation case will turn into nothing more than self-defamation.