'The Body' pins WWF in lawsuit

April 14, 1994|By Assoicated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jesse "The Body" Ventura has body-slammed the World Wrestling Federation over a dispute about videotape royalties.

A federal jury awarded the former wrestler nearly $810,000 after finding that the federation defrauded him. Most of the award was for royalties on tapes featuring Ventura as a wrestling commentator.

Ventura's attorney said officials of Titan Sports, which owns the federation, repeatedly lied to his client during contract negotiations when they told him other wrestlers were not getting royalties on videos sold by the federation.

"Jesse agreed that he would not get royalties on the videotapes because they defrauded him," attorney Alan Eidsness said. Therefore, the attorney said his contract agreeing to no royalties was void.

"The wrestlers were like serfs," Eidsness said. "The kings were the ones that made the decisions. The jury decided the kings were wrong."

Mark Ginder, an attorney for Titan, said his client is "very disappointed, although the jury significantly reduced Ventura's request of over $2 million." An appeal is being considered.

Ginder said the verdict contradicts the evidence and Ventura's agreement with the federation. Titan denies any misrepresentation of the royalty policy, he added.

Ventura, 42, retired from the ring in 1986. He now does commentary for World Championship Wrestling on superstation WTBS. He is also mayor of Brooklyn Park, hosts a radio talk show and has appeared in 10 movies.

"I'm very happy," Ventura said following the jury's verdict. "I felt I had been unfairly dealt with. The jury felt as I did."

The jurors deliberated about seven hours following a three-week trial in U.S. District Court before judge Paul Magnuson. They awarded $801,333 for royalties on 90 videotapes and $8,625 to compensate for Ventura's work on other federation merchandise, including a calendar.

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