Skip to comments.The Bitter Taste of Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle
Posted on 08/01/2014 4:29:52 AM PDT by Kaslin
There were two things Jesse Ventura was never supposed to win: the 1998 Minnesota Governors race, and his just-ended trial seeking a big payday from a heros widow.
But he was indeed a one-term Governor of an actual state, and now he has prevailed in another improbable arena a courtroom where he asserted that one of Americas most admired war heroes lied about him on purpose.
The $1.8 million dollar judgment from a ten-person jury voting 8-2 is a direct raid on the family budget of Chris Kyles widow Taya and their two children. The first half-million will be covered by insurance from the publisher of American Sniper, which contained the story that Ventura has now turned into a lottery ticket. The remaining $1.3 million goes straight from the Kyle familys bank account into Venturas on the foggy premise of unlawful enrichment, a concept that says Kyles estate is enjoying dirty money because a sliver of the book struck a jury as intentionally malicious.
Venturas determination was not even slowed by the death last year of Kyle, whose repeated deployments and successful takedowns of terrorists had become the stuff of legend. He died from a gunshot wound in Texas, shot at a gun range helping a fellow soldier battling PTSD.
The resulting Ventura legal strategy: full speed ahead. The logic: Kyles death does not change the reputational damage to a man who had already done plenty to damage his own reputation with loudly expressed views like the complicity of the Bush administration in 9/11.
The average 9/11 truther is a harmless chowderhead. But Venturas wandering mind found a megaphone in his Conspiracy Theory TV show that logged three seasons on truTV, giving credibility to old foil-hat favorites like weather control and martial law internment camps. He is free to embrace any poppycock he likes, even publicly, but it is hard to argue that the Kyle book had stained a sterling reputation.
So if you are gathering that my starting block defines Chris Kyle as a hero and Jesse Ventura as a buffoon, you are correct.
But heres the rub: none of that matters.
The jurys job was to determine whether the Kyle book spun intentional lies about Ventura intended to damage him. Thats a very high bar, but it is wholly separate from what anyone thinks of the parties involved.
So the testimony began almost a month ago. Kyles side offered testimony that Ventura, unidentified in American Sniper but named in book tour interviews, demeaned Navy SEALs at an actual wake for one of their fallen ranks in 2006. Kyles story is that he could not let this go, confronted Ventura and decked him.
Navy SEAL testimony should be a compelling thing. Drunk Navy SEAL testimony loses a little of its impact, though, and many of the evenings accounts drip with high blood alcohol levels.
For Venturas part, he does not mind so much a story of losing a bar fight. The engine of his quest is to defuse the account that he spoke ill of Navy SEALs, whose number he once occupied. The Kyle book places in Venturas mouth a quote that they deserve to lose a few. I can imagine Jesse Ventura saying a wide variety of incendiary, baseless and just plain stupid things. But even as an avowed non-fan, I have to say its hard to imagine those words coming out of his gravelly mouth.
So is that what led the jury to hand him a pile of Kyle family money?
If it is, I am still bewildered. The jury did not find that Kyles story seemed a little suspect, or that they think Ventura might have a reason for taking offense. They found that Chris Kyle absolutely made up this story on purpose with the specific intent of defaming him.
I scoured each day of trial stories and spoke to two reporters who covered it from start to finish. I find no compelling evidence that a case was made for a concrete finding that Chris Kyle sat at a keyboard and plotted to destroy what is left of Venturas image.
This was a trial filled with I dont know. At least thats my personal bottom line. I know I hope Chris Kyle, whose memorial service I proudly attended, did not have such a vicious streak. But I dont know.
But nor could the jury know that Kyle did in fact act so maliciously. In the face of such uncertainty, there is only one decision, and that is against Ventura not because they think he is lying, but because the burden of proof of Kyles malfeasance was not met.
After the jury struggled through a week of deadlock, both legal teams agreed to let an 8-2 margin settle the case. Venturas side was even willing to settle for 6-4. There were indeed two people on the panel unwilling to say yes, we believe Kyle sought to bring Ventura down with punishable lies.
Taya Kyles attorneys decision to accept an 8-2 conclusion looks profoundly dumb in hindsight. This would have been a mistrial, and even Ventura probably would have balked at reviving an expensive monster he was paying the full fare for. No contingency fee arrangement here.
But whats done is done. Ventura can say his name has been cleared, but I dont have faith in the eight jurors who were sufficiently swayed to deliver his big payday.
If he is so concerned about his image, he should have considered the unseemly sight of a man dragging a grieving widow into court. Twitter did not exactly explode with congratulations for him when his victory was announced.
But to the extent that he says Kyles death does not change the basis for his complaint, he is correct. He had every right to pursue the matter, and I wonder in some future case if it is the hero suing the scoundrel for defamation, if we would not support pressing forward if the scoundrel were to meet an untimely end.
So, to Jesse Ventura, a suggestion: Keep the half-mil that is the award for being wronged in the pages of American Sniper. But refuse to take the rest. Harper Collins is editing out the offending story, which was never more than a few pennies worth of the books cover price. Taya Kyle and her children have never done you a speck of harm. Allowing them to benefit from the proceeds of a fallen husband and fathers work, which is largely a gesture of love from a grateful nation, would give you a moment of public approval that would far exceed any image boost from this courtroom victory.
If it is your reputation you care about, you are entitled to say for the rest of your life that a jury found for you. And in returning the Kyle familys money, it can then be said that you responded to a slight not with revenge but with kindness and generosity. There are few better image-enhancers than that.
What jury was this ..rejects not smart enough to be on OJ jury?
In the mean while Chris Kyle's American Sniper memorial edition is flying of the shelves at Amazon.com
Good .maybe they’ll make another 1.3 million or more to cover the loss .but just damn!!! It is still chilling that we live in a nation governed by socialists and juries populated by idiots.
Sounds like a good Christmas gift - although it'll be hard to find family that doesn't have it already.
On the way to Amazon for a half-dozen copies.
OJ, Casey Anthony, etc. Ventura was a celeb and therefore innocent and/or deserving of a widow’s pension check!
Ventura’s rep is built on his loud mouth, his sensationalist personality and his bully character. How many jurors feared for their safety by opposing his nefarious claim?
Maybe, although I doubt it.
I don’t think this is over.
Ventura maybe a moron but stupid enough to walk into a bar and insult a bunch of upset drunk navy seals and say that?
That’s a suicide mission.
This "win" proves he's a loser and I bet the vast majority still believe Kyle's story.
Way to go there, Jesse. You couldn't pay me enough to do that to myself, at the expense of a widow and her children, and all for my reputation???
To paraphrase G. B. Shaw, we already knew what you are, Jesse, now we know your price.
Jim Janos was UDT...not a SEAL.....
Post of the day!
That ****** was never a SEAL.
The judge says it was one of the best juries he has ever worked with, attentive and when they asked for clarifications the questions were always on point.
We found out what is the price of Ventura’s self respect.
The worst thing for him is to be a “pariah in the brotherhood and current and former SEALS.”
He should be shunned.
There is no mention of a Jim Janos in the article and no one mentioned him in the replies.
What is UDT?
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