A federal judge has refused to dismiss most of the claims in Jesse Ventura's defamation suit against an ex-Navy SEAL sniper who says he punched the former Minnesota governor.
The former sniper, best-selling author Chris Kyle, had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle (no relation) to throw out Ventura's claims of invasion of privacy and "unjust enrichment," arguing there was no legal basis for them. But in a ruling Thursday, Dec. 20, the judge said the suit should proceed as-is.
In "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," Chris Kyle wrote that he decked someone he called "Scruff Face" for being disrespectful at a California bar in October 2006.
The book doesn't name Ventura,
but Kyle has acknowledged in interviews that "Scruff Face" is Ventura.
Ventura -- himself a former member of the Navy's special forces -- says the punch never happened and sued Kyle for defamation, invasion of privacy and wrongly profiting from the story of the punch.
Kyle's attorneys sought to have the latter two claims thrown out. The judge refused.
The author's "argument depends entirely on his own version of the facts and ignores Ventura's," the judge wrote in his nine-page order. "His statements are not protected by the First Amendment if they were knowingly false and defamatory, as Ventura claims."
Similarly, the judge wrote that he couldn't dismiss the claim of unjust enrichment because "it depends on the truth or falsity
of Kyle's statements, which the court cannot decide at this stage."
The parties have been told to be ready for trial by Aug. 1.
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