Widow of 'American Sniper' author seeks retrial of Ventura defamation case


The widow of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle is asking a judge to order a retrial of former Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit, the Associated Press reports.

The AP says Taya Kyle's attorneys argue in papers filed Thursday that the evidence presented at this summer's trial in St. Paul did not support the jury's $1.8 million award to Ventura for defamation and unjust enrichment.

Jurors in that case deliberated for nearly a week and were unable to reach a unanimous decision. At the judge's suggestion, lawyers for each side agreed to waive the unanimous verdict rule.

The lawsuit

Ventura sued over an anecdote in Chris Kyle's bestselling autobiography describing a one-punch bar fight with a celebrity – later identified as Ventura – who had been badmouthing Navy SEALs. According to the AP, Taya Kyle's lawyers maintain Ventura's side failed to meet the burden of proof by demonstrating that the story was false and that the author knew it was probably untrue.

Chris Kyle, who served with the SEALs, was reputed to be the U.S. military's deadliest sniper. Ventura was a frogman with a Navy unit that was a precursor to the SEALs. He argued the story in Kyle's bestselling book damaged his reputation, causing his income to suffer.

After Ventura filed his lawsuit, Chris Kyle was shot to death at a firing range in Texas. Ventura continued his defamation case against the author's estate, overseen by Taya Kyle.

Taya Kyle gets support from SEAL group

During emotional testimony at the trial in St. Paul, Taya Kyle broke down on the witness stand as she insisted her husband had not lied in his book.

Even before the jury's decision, a group founded by Navy SEALs began raising money to help Taya Kyle pay legal expenses. A company called Forged, which sells SEAL-themed apparel, designed a T-shirt in memory of Chris Kyle and applied the proceeds to the fund. When the campaign ended, days after the decision in the defamation case, it had raised more than $1 million, according to Forged's website.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was among those photographed in a "Legend" shirt.

A film version of "American Sniper" being directed by Clint Eastwood is set for release in January and reportedly features a number of Navy SEALs in its cast.

Separately, the website Courthouse News Service reported last month that Taya Kyle has filed a malpractice lawsuit against the attorney who oversees the family trust, claiming he has conflicts of interest he did not reveal and has been negligent in rendering services.

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