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Jesse Ventura was denied a $1.8 million defamation award by a federal appeals court in Minnesota on Monday, reports the AP.
The panel of three judges determined that Ventura’s attorneys made improper remarks during the original trial of Ventura against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and the court “clearly abused its discretion in denying a new trial.”
The key issue for the appeals court was Ventura’s attorney telling the jury that Chris Kyle’s estate/widow had insurance from the publication of Kyle’s book. In the book, Kyle alleged that he punched out Ventura, who denied the events and sued Kyle. Kyle was then murdered in 2013, but the case continued with Ventura suing his estate.
The appeals court felt that the remarks about the insurance policy swayed the jury to side with Ventura, who was awarded $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment.
Kyle’s widow, Taya, appealed on the grounds that the verdict should be overturned or a new trial be ordered.
At the appeals level, the judges ruled that the original award be thrown out and the case should return to the district court level for a new trial.
“From our review, these unsupported, improper, and prejudicial statements were not heat of the moment argument, but were strategic and calculated,” the judges wrote about Ventura’s attorney’s comments.
“Ventura’s counsel’s closing remarks, in combination with the improper cross-examination of two witnesses about Kyle’s insurance coverage, prevented Kyle from receiving a fair trial.”
Ventura was originally awarded $1.8 million in 2014, then the appeals process picked up in 2015. One of the previous big court hearings was in October 2015, where attorneys for Kyle’s estate asked the appeals court to toss out the award or order a new trial.
Eight months later, the appeals court came back with their decision to over-turn the damages and order a new trial.
Ventura said in past interviews that he will move to Mexico if he does not receive damages because of the cost of the legal process, which totaled more than $1.0 million. Another trial will add even more expenses to his tab.