|By Marino Eccher, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
A federal judge ruled this week that
That's how much a jury awarded Ventura for unjust enrichment last month after finding Navy SEAL-turned-author
The damages portion was essentially locked in, but the unjust enrichment award was a nonbinding advisory. It was up to U.S. District Judge
In a ruling Thursday,
The story in question -- scrutinized and rehashed from all angles during a two-week trial in
The book identified the man only as "Scruff Face," but Kyle confirmed it was Ventura in promotional interviews after the book was released.
Ventura said the story was fabricated and shredded his reputation. After a week of deliberations, eight on the ten jurors in the case agreed with him.
With the other two dug in and no possibility of a unanimous decision in sight, lawyers for both sides agreed to lower the bar and allow a divided 8-2 verdict. Neither side knew where the jury stood beforehand.
During the trial, "American Sniper's" publishers said the Ventura story had little to do with the book's astonishing success. Publicist
She said she booked the biggest promotional interview, on
That interview came just after
"O'Reilly chose to lead with the Ventura story -- not Kyle's record number of kills or his fatal 2,100 yard shot," the judge wrote. After that appearance, the book shot up bestseller lists.
The judge also cited evidence that the media frenzy surrounding the Ventura story struck a chord with publishers. HarperCollins editor
Rosenblum described in an email how Kyle had been asked specifically to tell the story on the "Fox and Friends" talk show, calling it "hot, hot, hot."
The judge also cited a promotional email sent to the HarperCollins sales team in which Rosenblum included links to
"Given how much media attention the Ventura story garnered and how book sales sky-rocketed after select media appearances in which Kyle recounted and discussed the Ventura story," the judge said, the jury's award was reasonable.
In their closing arguments in the trial, Ventura's attorneys estimated that "American Sniper" made about
The estimate didn't account for discounted pricing. The hardcover currently sells for about
The unjust enrichment award --
The book was also made into a movie, directed by
The Ventura story is not expected to appear in the film.
Attorneys for the Kyle estate said after the trial that HarperCollins libel insurance would cover the
Following the verdict, HarperCollins announced it would pull the Ventura story from all future editions of the book.
The Kyle estate has 30 days to file an appeal in the case.
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