Court Vacates $1.8M Ventura Award in 'American Sniper' Case

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A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a $1.8 million judgment awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who says he was defamed in the late author Chris Kyle's bestselling book "American Sniper."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the jury's 2014 award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment against Kyle's estate. Kyle, a former SEAL who was the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills, died in 2013.

The majority of the three-judge panel reversed the unjust-enrichment award, saying it fails as a matter of law. The majority also vacated the defamation award, but sent that portion of the case back to court for a new trial.

Messages left with Ventura's publicist and attorney were not immediately returned Monday. A message left with an attorney for Kyle's estate also did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Kyle claimed in a subchapter called "Punching Out Scruff Face," to have decked a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, during a fallen SEAL's wake at a California bar in 2006. He wrote that "Scruff Face" had made offensive comments about the elite force, including a remark that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq.

Ventura, a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member and ex-pro wrestler, testified at trial that Kyle's story was a fabrication. Ventura said he never made the comments and that the altercation never happened. He said the book ruined his reputation in the tight-knit SEAL community.

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