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Ventura could win more from ‘American Sniper’ publisher

HarperCollins, the publisher of the book that a jury ruled defamed the former Minnesota governor, faces another lawsuit, this one for unjust enrichment.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura could win more millions from his “American Sniper” defamation suit with a legal “one-two punch,” according to Slate.

News about the Ventura lawsuit is gaining attention again now that a movie made from the book, published by HarperCollins, has been nominated for Best Picture in the Oscars.

The movie doesn’t include the disputed three page section of the book, which claimed that author Chris Kyle punched someone, later identified as Ventura, for disparaging American soldiers.

A jury decided Kyle, who had by then died, lied about the incident and awarded Ventura $1.845 million from Kyle’s estate.

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Slate says Harper Collins has insurance that will pay the claims against Kyle’s widow:

“But for Kyle’s publisher, HarperCollins, the nightmare is just beginning. Several months after the verdict against the Kyle estate, Ventura brought another lawsuit for unjust enrichment, this time against HarperCollins. The lawsuit explains that while Kyle is the one who defamed Ventura, HarperCollins played up those defamatory statements in order to boost its sales—and with reckless disregard to the truth of Kyle’s claims.”

Says the story:

“No one from HarperCollins contacted Ventura or his representatives to verify the story…It gets worse for HarperCollins. Despite the tenuous source of the Ventura story, HarperCollins quickly saw it as a publicity gold mine…

“All of this presents a very big problem for HarperCollins. Ventura’s lawyers believe they can prove that American Sniper’s massive success was spurred, at least initially, by interest in the Ventura story. Under normal circumstances, HarperCollins might fight back by arguing that the story is true. But therein lies the brilliance of Ventura’s maneuvering: A jury has already determined that the Ventura tale is false and defamatory, meaning HarperCollins is legally barred from rearguing its veracity.

“As a result, HarperCollins must instead argue that it did not act with ‘reckless disregard’ for the truth of Kyle’s claims, and that no part of the company’s profits arose from interest in the Ventura story. Those questions, of course, must be left for a jury to decide. But it does not look very good for HarperCollins.”