Jury reconvenes in defamation case brought by Jesse Ventura

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 23, 2014 10:33 AM

By Todd Melby

ST PAUL Minn. (Reuters) - A jury reconvened Wednesday in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura, alleging his reputation was sullied by claims in a former Navy SEAL's book about his involvement in a bar fight.

In closing arguments a day earlier, defense lawyers said Ventura, a former professional wrestler, was a publicity seeker trying to grab headlines by filing a defamation case against the estate of a fellow ex-Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, who died after serving his country with honor.

In Kyle's book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," he alludes to a bar fight in which he slugs someone who made disparaging comments about Navy SEALs. While Ventura isn't named as the other party in the fight, Kyle later gave an interview in which he attributed the disparaging comments to the former politician.

Lawyers for Ventura, who is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages, said the fallout from the book left his TV career in shambles. They said their client was defamed by the section chronicling a bar fight between the two men.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours on Tuesday without reaching a verdict. [ID:nL2N0PX16J]

Kyle was killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a troubled Iraq war veteran.

The jury is being asked to determine whether Ventura was defamed, whether the statements the book made about him were false and, because Ventura is a public figure, if Kyle made them with actual malice, a higher standard than for ordinary citizens.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bernadette Baum)