Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura won $1.8 million Tuesday in his two-year fight to prove he was defamed by a military sniper and best-selling author who claimed to have punched out Ventura at a bar for bad-mouthing the Navy SEALs. A federal jury sided with Ventura in his lawsuit against "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle, who was killed last year in Texas. Though Ventura honed a tough-guy reputation as a pro wrestler and action movie actor, he maintained the legal battle was about clearing his name among his beloved fellow Navy SEALs, not about losing a supposed fight.
Kyle — reputed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history — said in his memoir that he punched Ventura in California in 2006 after Ventura said the SEALs "deserved to lose a few" in Iraq. Ventura disputed that the confrontation, including the punch, ever happened.
Ventura wasn't present for the verdict and didn't immediately return messages left at his home. His attorney, David Bradley Olson, said Ventura felt there were "no real winners in this trial."
Jurors declined to comment to reporters as they left the courthouse. They deliberated for five days before telling the judge Monday they didn't believe they could reach a unanimous verdict, but were told to keep trying. Tuesday's resolution came only after attorneys for both sides agreed to allow a verdict if eight of 10 jurors agreed.
- The Associated Press