Appeal Underway in ‘American Sniper’ Defamation Verdict

Briefs have been filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Taya Kyle, widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle seeking to overturn a $1.8 million dollar judgement awarded to Jesse Ventura.

Taya Kyle’s lawyer wrote that the verdict should be reversed and the court should rule in Kyle’s favor. At minimum, attorney John Borger wrote, Kyle should be granted a new trial.

Borger argued on appeal that the unjust enrichment award based on alleged defamatory speech is unprecedented and violates the First Amendment. Borger also argued that Ventura didn’t prove the account was either “material falsity” or “actual malice,” and as a result, he didn’t meet the legal threshold for a defamation claim. (


Borger argues, a new trial should be ordered because of “significant errors” including faulty jury instructions given by U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, and because Ventura’s lead attorney, David Olsen, made “prejudicial references” during the trial and in closing arguments, telling the jury the “insurer is on the hook if you find that Jesse Ventura was defamed.” Such remarks would make a jury more inclined to award money to Ventura, since it would not come out of Taya Kyle’s pocket.

Borger also suggested there was enough testimony to suggest Ventura made remarks similar to what was quoted in the book. “No reasonable and properly instructed jury could have concluded on this record that there was clear and convincing evidence Kyle knew the three statements were probably false when he published them,” Borger wrote. (

Full write-up at HERE

Full write-up at HERE

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