Some defamation lawsuits are laugh-inducing; others fall into the “on-a-very-special-episode” category. And at times, a libel lawsuit surfaces that makes you cringe. Entertainment wrestler, turned Minnesota Governor, turned conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against Chris Kyle — a highly decorated Air, Sea and Land special ops (SEAL) solider — falls into the cringe-worthy camp.
Jesse Ventura Sued Chris Kyle
The story begins back in 2006. According to Kyle, he and Ventura met in a California bar where Ventura allegedly talked smack about the Navy SEALs. Being a proud SEAL himself, Kyle was not impressed with Ventura’s bluster, so he cold clocked the former Minnesota Governor.
Ventura adamantly denied the event. As such, when the story appeared in Kyle’s autobiography, Ventura filed a good ole fashioned defamation suit.
Litigation began, and then tragedy struck. Kyle was shot and killed by a returning solider with PTSD who he was helping readjust to civilian life.
Instead of dropping the suit, Ventura filed a motion to have Kyle’s wife added to the claim, so litigation could continue.
Enter the Rogue Environmentalist
Enter Leslie Davis – a notorious Minnesota environmentalist who hates Ventura the way die hard Yankee’s fans hate the Boston Red Socks. Davis’ disdain runs so deep he penned the not-so-best-selling book “Always Cheat: The Philosophy of Jesse Ventura.” His list of grievances against Ventura is long.
Now, it’s important to note that Davis has been a thorn in Ventura’s side for a long time. His devotion to pestering Ventura resulted in a 2003 restraining order for, according to court records, trying “to provoke [Ventura] by regularly engaging himself and calling respondent names [and] making obscene hand gestures to him.”
But hey, a little court order didn’t keep the Ventura detractor down for good.
When Davis heard about Ventura’s move to add Kyle’s wife as a defendant in the defamation suit, Davis formally requested to intervene in the case. This is where things get interesting from a defamation law standpoint.
Could Davis’ Intervening in the Ventura v. Kyle Defamation Lawsuit Help Mrs. Kyle?
Under United States law, third parties can request to intervene in cases if they can prove a vested interest in the outcome. In this instance, Davis believes Ventura lied in a November deposition related to the defamation suit, so he wants the transcript made public. Essentially, Davis is saying potential fallacies may be lurking in Ventura’s deposition, which will affect Davis’ own legal issues (and matters of public concern, namely, the environment) with Ventura. On this occasion, Davis is arguing that his past legal strife with Ventura qualifies him as an interested party. He is also making the stretch claim that Ventura’s alleged “lies” led to his election, which resulted in “great harm to the environment.”(#goodluckwiththat)
Environmental politics aside, Davis’ argument on that score is weak (it’s simply tough to imagine a judge agreeing that a sole individual’s election was the direct cause of “great harm to the environment”). But is the “restraining order” argument valid?
Davis is representing himself at the hearing, so we’ll have to wait and see how he frames his argument.
In the meantime, though, it’s safe to say that if Davis is granted the opportunity to intervene in the Ventura defamation lawsuit, information that could become public might significantly help Kyle’s widow. After all, what if Ventura did lie in the deposition? And considering that Davis has kept a very close watch on Jesse Ventura for years, who knows, maybe he would be able to prove the former governor wasn’t being truthful in his deposition. Theoretically, any proof of dishonesty on Ventura’s part could severely hurt his chances of winning – and help Mrs. Kyle put this additional nightmare behind her.