Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wins case against estate of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

Taya Kyle, the daughter of Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker and widow of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, vowed Wednesday to fight for her husband's reputation in the wake of a federal jury's decision to award $1.8 million to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in a defamation lawsuit.

"We were dumbfounded,” Studebaker said. “We thought for sure they’d come back with a decision in Taya’s favor.”

Ventura, a U.S. Navy veteran and former professional wrestler, claimed that Kyle had fabricated a passage in his best-selling 2012 book, "American Sniper," in which he claimed to have punched a man — who he later identified as Ventura — in a bar fight in 2006 after Ventura said Navy SEALs "deserve to lose a few." Kyle said in testimony taped before his death last year that his story was accurate.

Kyle was killed at a Texas gun range in 2013 by a troubled fellow veteran. He was 39 at the time.

Taya Kyle's legal team, led by Minneapolis attorney John P. Borger, "is considering an appeal of some sort," Studebaker said. "But the first thing is to talk to the judge to see if he'll reduce the award or vacate (nullify) it."

Borger had no comment on the verdict, other than to say that "we are reviewing all available legal options and the status of the case is under review."

Neither Studebaker nor Taya Kyle were in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday when the jury returned its verdict on the sixth day of deliberations. But Studebaker, a former attorney who sat through “the whole trial,” said he felt confident as the days dragged on that jurors — who deadlocked Monday before returning the 8-2 verdict Tuesday — would believe a parade of defense witnesses.

“The money (award) is bad enough, but for the jury to consider Jesse’s testimony as more credible than the testimony of seven Navy SEALs … is really distressing,” said Studebaker. “Here’s a guy who says it’s not about the money, but it sure as heck is.”

Taya Kyle, who grew up in Gladstone but now lives in the Dallas, Texas, area, was left to raise two children, now ages 9 and 8, after their father’s sudden death.

After attorneys agreed early this week to allow a split decision instead of a unanimous one in the case, Studebaker said he figured “there had been two holdouts for Ventura” and eight jurors who sided with Taya Kyle. Instead, it went the other way.

Studebaker said he was “completely shocked” by the news.

“They have to basically have come to the conclusion that all of our witnesses lied,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has secured the rights to make “American Sniper” into a biographical action film, with Clint Eastwood directing. The movie will star Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and Luke Grimes. Production began March 31 in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. will release the film in the United States.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine