Published July 21, 2013
Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle -- purportedly the deadliest-ever American servicemen -- can proceed with the war hero’s widow as a substitute defendant, a judge has ruled.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan reportedly wrote in his decision concerning Ventura’s defamation suit, “(if) a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may order substitution of the proper party.”
Boylan subsequently named Taya Kyle, executor of her husband’s estate, as replacement defendant, the StarTribune of Minneapolis reports.
Ventura, whose resume includes noted turns as Minnesota governor, WWF wrestler, Navy SEAL, and Hollywood actor, sued Kyle over an unflattering anecdote the sniper slipped into his 2012 book.
Specifically, Kyle alleged that during a 2006 tete-a-tete, the duo duked it out at a California bar after Ventura badmouthed the second Iraq War, the United States, in general, as well as then-President George W. Bush.
Kyle, who served four tours of duty during the second Iraq War, was fatally shot in February by a fellow vet he and friend Chad Littlefield had squired to a Texas gun range.
The shooter, Eddie Ray Routh, is said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Kyle was trying to aid the troubled former soldier. Routh, instead, tragically turned the gun on Kyle and Littlefield, killing both men.
Kyle is thought to be the most lethal American serviceman in history, with upwards of 160 confirmed kills in combat.
Ventura – who had his own nom de guerre -- “The Body” -- during his wrestling career and who famously appeared in “Predator,” a cult Hollywood classic – was not named in Kyle’s book, but instead therein referred to as “Scruff Face.”
Kyle later told TV audiences during an interview that “Scruff Face,” was, indeed, the former Minnesota chief executive.
A Ventura attorney had argued Taya Kyle should be substituted as a defendant because Chris Kyle's estate will continue to profit from book sales and a recent movie deal, and Ventura has a right to protect his reputation.
Taya Kyle's attorney had argued Ventura would be better off dropping the case, saying that going forward would give the perception that Ventura had little regard for loved ones of deceased war heroes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.