Writer Who Defamed Jesse Ventura to Pay Up
MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - A federal judge approved a jury's award of over $1.8 million to Jesse Ventura in his defamation and unjust enrichment case against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle.
The jury found that Kyle had fabricated a story in his best-selling book that described the Navy SEAL punching Ventura in a 2006 California bar fight after the former Minnesota governor allegedly spoke ill of fallen soldiers.
According to Judge Richard H. Kyle's ruling, "American Sniper" - released on Jan. 3, 2012 - had 3,400 preorders before being published, but quickly skyrocketed to the best-seller list after its author detailed the incident with Ventura on numerous radio and television shows, including "The O'Reilly Factor."
The book, which details the life of U.S. Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, has also been adapted into a movie - directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper - set to be released in 2015.
In deeming the judgment of $1.8 million reasonable, Judge Kyle wrote: "At trial, [it was] estimated 'American Sniper' had sold 1.5 million copies to date. At $26.99 per book, Ventura's counsel estimated in closing argument that HarperCollins had made approximately $40 million off American Sniper sales. Kyle was entitled to 15% of the revenue (after the first $10,000), which would equal over $6 million in royalties to Kyle and his Estate to date. In addition, Kyle received more than $500,000 from the Warner Brothers contract to date."
He concluded that "given how much media attention the Ventura story garnered and how book sales sky-rocketed after select media appearances in which Kyle recounted and discussed the Ventura story, the jury's conclusion that Kyle was unjustly enriched by his story about Ventura was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Likewise, its award of $1,345,477.25 was a reasonable portion (approximately 25%) of Chris Kyle's and his Estate's total profits to date and was supported by substantial evidence."
Chris Kyle was shot and killed at a Texas gun range in 2013 by a U.S. Marine.