United We Stand, Divided We Settle

A long legal battle ends in a truce

The 5-year legal dispute between a former Minnesota Governor and the deceased American Sniper has finally settled.  Following the publication of Chris Kyle’s autobiography, in 2012, Jesse Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle. Even after Kyle’s unfortunate passing in 2013, Ventura continued his legal pursuit against Kyle’s estate. Ventura argues that a particular passage in Kyle’s book is defamatory, and damaged his reputation within the Navy SEAL community.

As the events unfold in Kyle’s autobiography, both Kyle and Ventura were at a California bar near a SEAL base when Ventura, referred to as “Scruff Face” in the book, made a dislikable remark in Kyle’s presence. Kyle claims that Ventura offensively commented about the SEALs in the war in Iraq, which led Kyle to initiate an altercation with Ventura. By punching Ventura, Kyle paints a picture that he was sticking up for all Navy SEALs. Ventura contends that the fight never happened.

Chris Kyle is considered the deadliest sniper to have ever lived, with 160 confirmed killings. Jesse Ventura is a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member, former Minnesota Governor, former professional wrestler, and actor.  When determining what really happened that night in the California bar, it is difficult to not consider the established credibility of both of these men. In 2014, a jury and a judge agreed with Ventura’s attorneys that the recollection detailed in Kyle’s book was defamatory to Ventura’s public image, and felt $1.8 million was worth the damage caused.

Despite the evidence presented, a federal appeals court overturned that $1.8 verdict in 2016. Just a couple of weeks ago, before having to go through another trial, both of the parties involved in the lawsuit decided to settle the dispute. While the specific terms of the settlement are not known to the public, Ventura has divulged that neither the widow of Chris Kyle, nor his estate will have to pay a dime toward the settlement. There is speculation that either HarperCollins, the company that published Kyle’s book, or the publisher’s insurance company will pay out the settlement.