After six days of deliberation, a Minnesota jury reached a verdict in a lawsuit filed by former Minnesota Governor and WWE personality Jesse Ventura against a now deceased Navy SEAL sniper.
The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. [Minnesota Star-Tribune]
The lawsuit stems from a quote in Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s book American Sniper. In it, Kyle claims to have punched a celebrity in a bar while mourning during the wake for Master at Arms 2nd Class Michael Monsoor. According to the Kyle, the celebrity “started running his mouth about the war and everything and anything he could connect to it.” The celebrity in question also said that what the SEALS had done was wrong, and they “could stand to lose a few,” instigating the bar brawl that followed.
Kyle would later go on to claim via different media outlets that the celebrity in question was Jesse Ventura. According to Ventura, the entire story was fabricated, and damaging to his reputation and relationship with the military. Ventura served with the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams during the time of the Vietnam war before it was merged with the SEALs in the 1980’s.
As a gesture of good faith, or excuse to try out the Domino’s tracker, the Ventura family instructed a friend to deliver pizzas to the media patiently waiting outside of the courtroom for a verdict.
Chris Kyle was shot to death in Texas in 2013, leaving the damages to be paid out by his estate, primarily his widow Taya. Ventura was criticized for continuing the suit in light of Kyle’s death, and even became the subject of a petition signed by Navy SEALS. Ventura’s attorney David B. Olsen insists that the suit was not targeting Taya specifically, but rather the Kyles’ insurance company. Said Olsen after the trial: “There are no winners in this case.”
Except, you know…Ventura.