L.A. County to Pay Vanessa Bryant $28.85M to Settle Lawsuit over Kobe Helicopter Crash Photos

 

A Los Angeles County attorney said that the county has agreed to pay Vanessa Bryant $28.85 million to resolve a lawsuit over images taken at the scene of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gianna.

Mira Hashmall, the lead trial lawyer for Los Angeles County in the case, said in a statement that the settlement puts to rest all claims brought against the government, according to NBC News. The agreement also ends the dispute brought by the NBA legend’s widow against the county after first responders took images of the crash site and later disseminated them.

“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement to CNN. “She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice.”

Kobe Bryant, 41, was on board the Sikorsky S-76B with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on January 26, 2020, when the helicopter abruptly banked and crashed into the hills of southern California. Everyone on board was killed. The party was on its way to a youth basketball game.

Hashmall said the initial $15 million a jury awarded Vanessa Bryant is part of the settlement. “The $28,850,000 settlement includes the verdict awarded by the federal jury in August 2022, and further resolves all outstanding issues related to pending legal claims in state court, future claims by the Bryant children, and other costs, with each party responsible for its respective attorneys’ fees,” Hashmall said. “We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss,” she added.

Vanessa Bryant and her counsel claimed in their complaint that images taken of her murdered husband and kid at the crash site invaded her privacy and caused her emotional distress, The Associated Press reported after the jury awarded the widow $15 million. The photographs in question were mostly shared by cops and firefighters from LA County.

The images were allegedly shared by several of the officials while they were playing video games. Others shared them at an awards ceremony. The images were also seen by some of their married spouses and a bartender.

Vanessa Bryant testified during the 11-day trial. She said that seeing the images exacerbated her sadness over the deaths of her husband and children. She further stated that she still has panic attacks when she thinks about the images being circulated.

“I live in fear every day of being on social media and these popping up,”  the 40-year-old testified during the trial. “I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up.”

Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter, Payton, were also killed in the helicopter crash in 2020. Chris Chester, the deceased woman’s husband, also filed a lawsuit over the images. In addition to being granted $15 million in August, the county agreed a $4.95 million deal with the widower to settle other allegations, according to NBC News. The county paid $1.25 million to the families of the other people killed in the crash to resolve the complaint.

An investigation revealed that pilot error was at blame for the incident.

 

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