Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura confirmed Monday he and the estate of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle reached an agreement to settle Ventura’s defamation lawsuit late last week.
Ventura sued Kyle, the man he referred to repeatedly Monday as the “American Liar,” after Kyle wrote that he punched a man, later identified as Ventura, in a bar. Ventura said it never happened.
A federal jury in Minnesota awarded Ventura $1.8 million in 2014, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. While Ventura initially said he’d seek a new trial, court documents filed Friday showed the parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning Ventura cannot sue again on the same claim.
Kyle, a retired Navy SEAL, was killed at a Texas shooting range in 2013, but Ventura’s lawsuit proceeded against Kyle’s estate.
He said at a news conference Monday that he could not discuss the terms of the settlement with Kyle’s estate or publisher HarperCollins because it was confidential, but he claimed vindication.
“This was fake news people,” Ventura said of the bar fight story in the book. “This was fake news at it’s finest because the whole thing was fake.”
Ventura said the whole thing could have been settled years ago with simply an admission from Kyle that he made up the story. Ventura says Kyle refused.
“My settlement is now in the bank,” Ventura said while seated at a conference table at his attorney’s office in Minneapolis. “That tells you everything else about it.
“I’m happy this is over with, and I can get on with my life,” he continued.
“Let’s remember … you don’t pay if you’re innocent. You go to court. That’s what I did; and if you’re the other side and you do pay, that tells you who was telling the truth right there.”
Ventura blasted those who criticized him continuing with the lawsuit even after Kyle’s death.
“I had to clear my name,” Ventura said, “and I got in trouble for trying to clear my name? I was ridiculed and called names by the media.”
Ventura said the lawsuit did not cost Kyle’s family anything out of their own pockets.
“The Kyle family did not pay one dime throughout this whole five-year ordeal,” Ventura said. “It was paid for by HarperCollins and the insurance company. And that was another misreport by the media. I had to pay. When you’re the plaintiff, you have to pay yourself, and good lawyers aren’t cheap.”
Though he could not discuss terms of the settlement, he said his mood should be an indication of how he felt.
“The settlement is confidential, but I can smile,” he said.
Attorneys for the Kyle estate couldn’t be reached for comment.