MINNEAPOLIS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The passage from the best-selling memoir “American Sniper” that sparked former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s defamation lawsuit against author Chris Kyle will be removed, publisher HarperCollins said Wednesday.
A federal jury in St. Paul awarded Ventura over $1.8 million in damages on Tuesday, finding that a section of the book defamed Ventura.
Kyle, a former Navy SEAL regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, wrote that he decked Ventura at a California bar in 2006 after Ventura made offensive comments about SEALs, including that the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq.
Ventura, himself a former SEAL and former pro wrestler, testified he never made the statement and that the confrontation never happened.
“The passage will be removed,” HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum told The Associated Press in an email. The publisher did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about how and when it would delete the passage.
Kyle was slain at a Texas gun range last year. He stood by his story in a deposition videotaped before his death. The lawsuit continued against his widow, Taya Kyle, as executor of his estate.
“We were surprised and disappointed to hear about the jury’s decision and are supportive of Taya as she moves forward,” HarperCollins said in a statement reacting to the verdict. “We steadfastly remain honored to be Chris’s publisher.”
Ventura’s attorney, David Bradley Olsen, told reporters Tuesday they would ask HarperCollins to remove the subchapter, which was called “Punching Out Scruff Face.” He said the publisher would be acting at its own risk if it left the passage in.
A woman answering Ventura’s phone Wednesday said he was not available. But in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday, Ventura said: “I plan to visit HarperCollins. They published the book and did no due diligence to find out if the story was true.”
Ventura also rebuffed claims that he damaged his reputation by filing the lawsuit against Kyle’s widow.
“I would have been a big time loser had I not pursued the lawsuit,” he said. “The whole story was fabricated. I was accused of treason, which in the military is the death penalty. I would think that would inspire anyone to seek the truth.”
He added, “If seeking the truth damages you, then we live in a pretty sorry world don’t we?”
“I’m already damaged, I can’t go to a SEAL reunion anymore. That was the one place I always felt safe, and I can’t go there anymore. I would be looking over my shoulder wondering who would be coming after me next.”
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