#1 Court vacates $1.8M Ventura award in 'American Sniper' case by Cincinnatus 13.06.2016 15:30


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday threw out $1.8 million in damages awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who said he was defamed by the late author Chris Kyle in the bestselling book "American Sniper."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also sent a portion of the case — Ventura's defamation claim — back to the district court for a new trial, saying Ventura's attorneys made improper remarks and the trial court "clearly abused its discretion in denying a new trial."

Messages left with Ventura, his publicist and his attorney were not immediately returned Monday. An attorney for Kyle's estate had no comment and referred questions to publisher HarperCollins, which said it was reviewing the opinion and had no comment at this time.


The majority of the judges also vacated the defamation award and sent that portion of the case back to court for a new trial.

The majority found that Ventura's attorneys improperly let the jury hear that publisher HarperCollins had an insurance policy to cover a defamation award and attorney fees. The majority said those comments prevented Kyle's estate from receiving a fair trial and that Ventura's attorneys deliberately referenced a "deep-pocket insurer" to try to influence the jury and enhance damages.

"From our review, these unsupported, improper, and prejudicial statements were not heat of the moment argument, but were strategic and calculated," the judges wrote.

The judges also wrote: "Ventura's counsel's closing remarks, in combination with the improper cross-examination of two witnesses about Kyle's insurance coverage, prevented Kyle from receiving a fair trial."

Judge Lavenski Smith dissented, saying Ventura's attorneys mentioned insurance coverage only after Taya Kyle testified she'd be responsible for damages. He noted that Ventura's attorneys argued Taya Kyle should not be allowed to "plead poverty if an insurance company is going to pick up the tab."


Welcomed development. Whatever the merits of his case, and they are questionable, Ventura came across as an overly sensitive whiner who was bullying a widow. Very dislikable.

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