"Defendant In Jesse Ventura V. Taya Kyle Cites Mckee V. Laurion Precedent In Her Legal Brief"
The widow of Chris Kyle, author of "American Sniper", is appealing former Navy SEAL and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura's defamation award against Kyle's estate. Her brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit cites David McKee MD V. Dennis Laurion as a precedent.
In July, Ventura was awarded $1.845 million for claims made by Kyle in American Sniper Ventura says were fabricated and damaging to Ventura's career and reputation.
Excerpts from brief:
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Jesse Ventura a/k/a James G. Janos, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Taya Kyle, as Executor of the Estate of Chris Kyle, Defendant-Appellant.
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA Civ. No. 12-cv-472 (RHK/JJK) – District Judge Richard H. Kyle
BRIEF and ADDENDUM of APPELLANT TAYA KYLE,
EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF CHRIS KYLE
FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP
Attorneys for Appellant Taya Kyle,
Executor of the Estate of Chris Kyle
SUMMARY OF CASE AND REQUEST FOR ARGUMENT
Appellant Taya Kyle, executor of the estate of Chris Kyle, asks this Court to reverse the judgment awarding Jesse Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1,345,477.25 for unjust enrichment. Review of the record establishes that Ventura did not prove material falsity or actual malice. The court's unjust enrichment award based on allegedly defamatory speech is unprecedented, distorts Minnesota common law, and violates the First Amendment. The judgment, therefore, must be reversed and the case dismissed.
This Court should reverse the defamation judgment because the district court incorrectly instructed the jury about the questions of whether the statements at issue were materially false and published with actual malice. The First Amendment requires an appellate court to examine the record independently and enter judgment for the defendant where, no properly instructed jury could have found defamation liability. See Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 285.
. . .
The district court erred when it instructed the jury it could impose defamation liability based on the entirety of the "story" Kyle told about Ventura, rather than explaining that its original instruction required Ventura to prove all of the elements of his defamation claim with respect to at least one of the three specific statements at issue.
A jury instruction is erroneous if it misstates the law. Wolfe v. Fayetteville, Ark. Sch. Dist., 648 F.3d 860, 864 (8th Cir. 2011). To establish a defamation claim, a plaintiff must prove that a specific statement is both defamatory and false. McKee v. Laurion, 825 N.W.2d 725, 729 - 30 (Minn. 2013). In addition, the First Amendment requires a public figure to prove that such a statement was published with actual malice. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 327-28 (1974).
The Supreme Court, this Court, and the Minnesota Supreme Court have all left no doubt that, to sustain a defamation claim with respect to a group of allegedly false and defamatory statements, a plaintiff must prove each of the elements of his cause of action with respect to each such statement. See, e.g., Air Wis., 134 S. Ct. at 864-65; Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 501 U.S. 496, 502, 522-25 (1991); Stepnes v. Ritschel, 663 F.3d 952, 964-65 (8th Cir. 2011); Aviation Charter, 416 F.3d at 868-71; Michaelis v. CBS Inc., 119 F.3d 697, 700-03 (8th Cir. 1997); Price v. Viking Penguin, 881 F.2d 1426, 1429 (8th Cir. 1989); McKee v. Laurion, 825 N.W.2d at 729-30.