Friends rally around ex-SEAL in lawsuit

Aug. 30, 2012 at 11:24 AM
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ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Friends of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle rallied to his defense in a defamation suit filed by ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura over his portrayal in Kyle's memoir.

Ventura, whose real name is James Janos and was known as the wrestler "The Body," filed suit against Kyle's portrayal of a bar fight in Coronado, Calif., in Kyle's book, "American Sniper." Kyle said he and a man identified as "Scruff Face" mixed it up after Scruff Face made derogatory comments about the war in Iraq during a wake for a SEAL killed in action, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday.

Kyle later acknowledged Scruff Face is Ventura, who has denied Kyle's allegation he provoked the alleged bar fight by saying the SEALS "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq, or that Kyle "laid him out."

Ventura's lawsuit was moved has federal court in St. Paul, Minn., where Kyle's attorney, John Borger, filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss two of the three counts, Stars and Stripes said. Borger said he would file a separate motion for summary judgment on the remaining defamation claim.

During the Vietnam war, Ventura was a member of the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams, which was re-designated as SEAL Teams.

David Olsen, Ventura's attorney, said he would respond in court.

Kyle said he and two others wrote "American Sniper" and that while the events are true, "I reconstructed dialogue from memory, which means that it may not be word for word. But the essence of what was said is accurate."

The witnesses' declarations generally support Kyle's recounting of the alleged fight at a bar in Coronado during a wake for a SEAL who threw himself onto a grenade to save his comrades and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

In one declaration, the mother of the fallen SEAL said she heard Ventura criticize the war and disparage President George Bush. Ventura talked only of himself and "did not say he was sorry for my loss."

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