The slain Navy SEAL's estate may have to pay up to the former governor in his defamation case
Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura insisted the family of Chris Kyle “hasn’t suffered one dime of monetary loss” due to his defamation suit win against the late Navy SEAL. But Ventura may have spoken too soon.
On an episode of his podcast We the People with Jesse Ventura, Ventura explained there were still many misconceptions about his recent lawsuit. Ventura claimed Kyle falsely accused him of saying he hates America and that the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in the war. Ventura was awarded $1.8 million in damages: $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment.
“The jury gave me what they felt I was damaged. The majority of that money is going to my attorney. Again, this will cost the Kyle family nothing for the lie that was written about me,” Ventura said in the podcast.
Ventura also said Kyle’s widow Taya had her expenses “paid entirely from a giant insurance company.”
But Ed Huddleston, a lawyer for the Kyle estate, says this is a premature assumption.
“It is not true that the insurance company is currently agreeable to cover the entire judgment. At present, the insurance company’s position is that it would only cover $500,000 of the judgment if the judgment becomes final. That position leaves the Estate at risk for the remaining $1.3 million if the judgment becomes final,” Huddleston says in a statement to PEOPLE.
Huddleston adds that the publisher and insurer have been supportive of Taya and her family.
“Both HarperCollins and the insurance company have gone the extra mile to ease the emotional trauma to Chris s widow and her young children,” he says. The legal team plans to appeal the case.
But a representative for Ventura tells PEOPLE, “If the Estate has a dispute with its insurance company over the scope of coverage, no one in the Ventura camp is privy to those details. All we know is what the policy says, and it is written broadly enough to cover all of the damages awarded.”
In January 2012, Ventura filed the defamation lawsuit against Kyle after claims in Kyle’s 2012 bestselling memoir stated that a person identified as “Scruff Face” had spoken out against the war in Iraq and against Navy SEALS. Kyle then identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura in radio and television interviews following the book release.
After Kyle was killed in 2013 – allegedly murdered on a gun range by a troubled ex-Marine he was trying to help – Ventura substituted Kyle’s widow (and executor of her late husband’s estate) Taya as the defendant.
“I refused to settle because to me it wan’t about money, it was about the truth,” Ventura said on his show.
Watch Ventura’s full personal statement on his web show Off The Grid below: