Jury in defamation case by Jesse Ventura to reconvene next week

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 25, 2014 6:21 PM

By Todd Melby

ST PAUL Minn. (Reuters) - The jury in the defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura will reconvene next week after it adjourned on Friday without reaching a verdict following four days of deliberations.

The 10-person jury heard closing arguments at a federal court on Tuesday in a civil lawsuit involving Ventura and Chris Kyle, a deceased former Navy SEAL who wrote the bestselling book "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History."

Lawyers for Ventura said the ex-governor's reputation was sullied and his TV career left in shambles by claims made in the book about a bar fight between the two sparked by what Kyle said were disparaging comments about the Navy SEALs that he later attributed to the former politician.

Lawyers for Kyle's estate contend Ventura's defamation case is aimed at keeping the name of the fading star in the headlines at the expense of an ex-SEAL, who served his country with honor.

Deliberations are scheduled to resume on Monday.

The jury is being asked to decide if Kyle's remarks were defamatory, materially false and if he knew it was "false, believing it was false or having serious doubts about its truth."

Ventura is not mentioned by name in the book as being in the bar fight. Kyle later said in media interviews that he had hit Ventura in the 2006 incident.

Ventura, who once belonged to a Navy underwater demolition team, told jurors of his admiration for the Navy SEALs. The judge had to halt Ventura from unbuttoning his short to reveal a Navy trident tattoo on his chest.

Kyle's book has generated at least $2.5 million in royalties split between his estate, agent and co-authors. A movie based on the book is due to be released in 2015.

A troubled military veteran is accused of murdering Kyle at a Texas shooting range last year.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)