Ex-Minnesota governor alleges 'American Sniper' defamed him
His lawsuit contends Kyle described an encounter with Ventura at a California bar in October 2006 that never happened, causing Ventura, a former professional wrestler and actor, financial losses in addition to harming his reputation.
Kyle claimed in his book and in interviews supporting its sales that Ventura made disparaging remarks about servicemen and Kyle decked him with a punch to the face.
In his book, Kyle described an encounter with a man he identified only as "Scruff Face," who insisted that SEALs serving in Iraq had not suffered enough casualties.
"You deserve to lose a few," Kyle quoted "Scruff Face" as saying. In later media interviews, Kyle said "Scruff Face" was Ventura.
Kyle, a decorated sniper, was killed along with a neighbor in February 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a troubled Iraq war veteran he was trying to mentor.
Ventura's lawsuit filed against Kyle in 2012 now names as the defendant his widow, Taya Kyle, as the overseer of Kyle's estate.
Ventura and Taya Kyle were in court for the opening of the trial on Tuesday.
Ventura is expected to testify and several hours of videotaped depositions given by Kyle are expected to be played at the trial before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle, who is not related to the Kyle family.
The jury is being asked to determine whether Ventura was defamed, whether the statements were false and, because Ventura is a public figure, if Kyle made them with actual malice, a higher standard than for ordinary citizens.
The judge told the prospective jurors to expect the trial to last three to four weeks.