Court Overturns Verdict In ‘American Sniper’ Defamation Case

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A photo composite shows Chris Kyle, left, former Navy SEAL and author of the book “American Sniper,” and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, right.
Associated Press photo

On June 13, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a jury’s decision to award Jesse Ventura  $1.8 million in damages following a 2014 defamation case between Ventura and the estate of Chris Kyle, reports the Associated Press.


The late Kyle was a former Navy SEAL and regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

Related: Navy Investigating Whether Chris Kyle Misrepresented His Combat Awards »

In his book, “American Sniper,” Kyle described a fight between himself and Ventura at a California bar in 2006, and accused the former Minnesota governor of making offensive comments about Navy SEALs, including a line about how they "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq.

Kyle, who was killed by a troubled fellow veteran on a shooting range in 2013, gave sworn videotaped testimony before his death that the story was true.  

Ventura, a Navy veteran and former SEAL himself, testified that the altercation never happened and that the chapter ruined his reputation among the tight-knit community, when he sued for defamation in 2014.

A jury awarded Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment. Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle appealed, asking that the verdict be thrown out and a new trial ordered on First Amendment grounds.

During the recent ruling, a three-judge panel unanimously reversed the unjust enrichment award, saying the theory of unjust enrichment did not apply in this case. For unjust enrichment to apply, Ventura would have had to establish that he had at a “preexisting contractual or quasi-contractual relationship with Kyle,” reports the Star Tribune.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges also reversed the $500,000 defamation award, and remanded the case to the district court for a new defamation trial.

Two of the three judges found Ventura’s attorneys improperly let the jury hear that the book’s publisher Harper Collins had an insurance policy to cover a defamation award and attorney fees.

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

Jurors would be less hesitant to issue a substantial defamation award if they knew Tara Kyle was covered by an insurance policy, said the appellate court according to the Star Tribune.

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

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Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

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Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.

By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.

"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.

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(DoD photo)

A U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan on Monday, defense officials have announced.

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