Jesse Ventura recently won his lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle. Many people are up in arms about this, and like most things, they don’t even know what they are mad about.
First, a little background. Chris Kyle was a S.E.A.L sniper. He had 160 confirmed kills, making him the most successful sniper ever. When he left the military, he wrote a book about how awesome he is. In this book there was a chapter about meeting someone at a bar. According to the book, this person and Kyle got into an argument, and this Scruff Face, as he was named, said that more SEALs needed to die, which resulted in Kyle punching him in the face and knocking him out. This person is not named, and had it been left at this, everything would have been forgotten in no time.
Kyle, however, decided to tell everybody who that chapter in his book was about. He named Jesse Ventura as the person he punched out for saying that more SEALS needed to die. Kyle’s publisher said that this was the moment that his book started flying off the shelf. Everybody was talking about this young SEAL who killed 160 people and punched out “The Body”.
Jesse Ventura confronted Kyle about this, asking for an apology and retraction, Kyle instead joked about how easy it was to punch old men out of wheel chairs. As a result, Ventura sued Kyle for defamation.
Kyle was shot by a friend suffering from PTSD and died as a result of his wounds. This is what a lot of people are upset about, because Ventura’s lawsuit continued with Kyle’s widow now helming the defense, and everybody on the internet is upset that Ventura is suing the widow of a war hero.
They are wrong of course, that isn’t what happened at all. Let’s go over a few of the finer points of the suit and Jesse’s resultant victory.
The suit was not about what people keep saying it’s about.
No, Jesse Ventura was not named in the book, and no, he is not suing because he was punched out. Jesse Ventura is suing because of the statement made by Chris Kyle, that he was quoted as wanting SEALs to die. THAT is why the suit started. Not because Jesse is upset he got sucker punched, or that someone wrote about him getting sucker punched in a book. He is upset that someone went around to every interview they could, saying that he wanted his fellow soldiers to die.
Jesse Venture did not sue a grieving widow.
The lawsuit started a year before Kyle’s death. When Kyle died, the suit became part of the estate. Kyle’s wife, as executrix of the estate, took over the defense. The suit continued because the estate profited off of the slanderous remarks by Kyle.
Jesse Ventura is NOT taking money out of the hands of a grieving widow.
Ventura won two awards in the case. The first was $500,000 for defamation, the second was $1.3 million for unlawful enrichment. The first part of his award, along with all legal fees for the defense, were paid by the publisher’s insurance company. The second part, comes to about $1 per book sold, which leaves the widow with $1.7 million, plus what ever she gets out of the movie deal and any insurance payouts. She is hardly going to be destitute. This is also just what the Jury stated that Ventura should receive, it is the judge that decides the final reward, which will probably be even lower.
This is beside the point however, because NONE of the money should be hers. Anybody remember when Chris Kyle said that all of the proceeds from his book would go to helping families of fallen vets? Turns out, instead of giving it all away like they said, they only gave away about $50k. But hey, I’m sure he wasn’t lying about giving all the money away, he probably just didn’t get around to it yet since he was so busy going to all the interviews and such…
There was plenty evidence for Jesse Ventura’s case.
In order for Jesse Ventura to win this case, he not only had to show that he was damaged due to the remarks, but also had to show “clear and convincing evidence” that Kyle knowingly made said remarks with malice and an intent to injure or a reckless disregard for the truth. This means that he has to do more than just lay a sob story about how Kyle’s statements hurt him, Ventura had to actually show that not only were Kyle’s words not true, but that Kyle made them knowingly, and profited from them.
Jesse Ventura has stated that once Kyle started trashing him in the news, he found that he could no longer go to SEAL events. Likewise, this is also the same time that his show was dropped from TruTV, so I believe we have the damages part covered.
As to proving that it wasn’t true? The Jury got to watch a 5 hour deposition that Kyle gave under oath. They got to listen to Kyle’s friends retelling of the night in question. They also got to listen to Ventura. They got to see pictures of Ventura on the night in question, as well as the day after, where he lacked the black eye he was said to have been given.
The jury decided that Kyle’s testimony during deposition was inconsistent, that his friends likewise gave inconsistent stories. They decided the evidence provided by Ventura showed that he was telling the truth, and that Kyle lied.
Chris Kyle: bullshitter, or traitor?
Chris Kyle was a war hero. This is the truth. That doesn’t mean that everything he ever did was perfect. He was a sniper, not a messiah. This is not to diminish anything he did while fighting overseas. That’s what we honor when we call him a hero. People have to do terrible things in wars, and they deserve our respect for doing these things in the service to our country. But it doesn’t make them saints, and it doesn’t excuse them from being dicks when they get back. Even if we forget what he said about Jesse Ventura, there are still plenty of tall tales that Kyle loved to tell people. In fact, if there was one thing that he did better than shoot people, it’s making up stories about shooting even more people.
For instance, there is one of his tales that made it into the upcoming movie where he shoots two people trying to rob him. The problem with this tale however, is that not only do the police not know what he’s talking about, but neither do the medical examiners. Nobody seems to know anything about this incident except for Kyle himself. If this story is true, it means that not only did he shoot two people to death, but he also failed to call the cops, and he hid the bodies. That’s not the typical action of a law-abiding citizen.
Likewise, we come to the story he told a bunch of other SEALs and reporters of the time he went to New Orléans after Katrina. There, he climbed to the top of the Super Dome and proceeded to shoot US citizens. That’s right, he acted as judge, jury, and executioner, shooting civilians he deemed as a danger, with absolutely nothing close to any kind of due process. He said that he killed 30 people that day, without evidence, warrants, trails, convictions, or any other kind of safeguard put into place by our founding fathers to prevent this very kind of vigilante justice. If this story is true, then it makes him a murderer that forsook his oath to uphold the constitution.
Most people will probably just brush it off as the tall tale of someone who liked to brag…
You know, like the story of how he punched an old man out of his wheelchair…