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Ventura v. Kyle

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 26, 2014

Jesse Ventura a/k/a James G. Janos, Plaintiff,
v.
Taya Kyle, as Executor of the Estate of Chris Kyle, Defendant

Decided November 25, 2014

Page 1002

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Plaintiff: David Bradley Olsen, Court J. Anderson, John N. Bisanz, Jr., Henson & Efron, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For Defendant: John P. Borger, Leita Walker, Charles F. Webber, Amy M. Gernon, Holly A. Miller, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Page 1005

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or New Trial (Doc. No. 404). For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a well-known former wrestler, actor, and Governor of Minnesota, who served as a member of the Navy Special Forces Underwater Demolition/SEAL Teams during the Vietnam War. Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper and author of an autobiography entitled American Sniper, the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (hereafter, " American Sniper" ). The book, which was released January 3, 2012, reached number one on the New York Times' Bestseller list by January 29, 2012, and in June 2012, Warner Brothers purchased the rights to a film adaptation.

In American Sniper, Kyle wrote a subchapter captioned " Punching Out Scruff Face" about an alleged altercation with Plaintiff. According to Kyle, the encounter took place at McP's, a bar in Coronado, California, on October 12, 2006, during a wake for Kyle's comrade, Mike Monsoor, who was killed in the line of duty. The subchapter reads as follows:

AFTER THE FUNERAL WE WENT TO A LOCAL BAR FOR THE WAKE proper.
As always, there were a bunch of different things going on at our favorite nightspot, including a small party for some older SEAL's and UDT members who were celebrating the anniversary of their graduation. Among them was a celebrity I'll call Scruff Face.
Scruff served in the military; most people seem to believe he was a SEAL. As far as I know, he was in the service during the Vietnam conflict but not actually in the war.
I was sitting there with Ryan and told him that Scruff was holding court with some of his buddies.
" I'd really like to meet him," Ryan said.
" Sure." I got up and went over to Scruff and introduced myself.
" Mr. Scruff Face, I have a young SEAL over here who's just come back from Iraq. He's been injured but he'd really like to meet you."
Well, Scruff kind of blew us off. Still, Ryan really wanted to meet him, so I brought him over. Scruff acted like he couldn't be bothered.
All right.
We went back over to our side of the bar and had a few more drinks. In the meantime, Scruff started running his mouth about the war and everything and anything he could connect to it. President Bush was an asshole. We were only over there because Bush wanted to show up his father. We were doing the wrong thing, killing men and women and children and murdering.
And on and on. Scruff said he hates America and that's why he moved to Baja California. 9/11 was a conspiracy.
And on and on some more.
The guys were getting upset. Finally, I went over and tried to get him to cool it.
" We're all here in mourning," I told him. " Can you just cool it? Keep it down."
" You deserve to lose a few," he told me. Then he bowed up as if to belt me.
I was uncharacteristically level-headed at that moment.
" Look," I told him, " why don't we just step away from each other and go on our way?" Scruff bowed up again. This ...

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