Vanessa Bryant — the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant — settled her lawsuit with Los Angeles County on Feb. 28. The lawsuit came after employees of the county’s fire and sheriff’s departments released graphic photos of the helicopter crash scene that killed her husband and daughter, Gianna. Los Angeles County agreed to give Bryant 28.85 million dollars to compensate for the release of the photos. The settlement includes the 15 million dollars that the jury awarded Bryant in August, as well as additional funds to settle future claims that Bryant’s three daughters could make.
Bryant initially sued in September of 2020 for negligence and invasion of privacy after the employees released close-up photos of the mangled remains of those killed at the crash site. The settlement comes seven months after Bryant won the trial in August. Her lawyer Luis Li declared, “[ Bryant] 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.”
The jury additionally alloted Chris Chester, who joined the suit because the crash also killed his wife Sarah and daughter Payton, 15 million dollars. In addition, the county agreed to pay the Chester family an additional 4.95 million dollars to resolve any potential future claims. In October 2021, two other families settled with Los Angeles County over the photos for 1.25 million dollars each.
In her testimony, Bryant explained that she went down to the sheriff’s station to confirm the deaths of her family. When the sheriff at the time asked if he could comfort her loss, Bryant testified that she replied, “If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area.” Even after the sheriff agreed, she stated, “No, I need you to get on the phone right now, and I need you to make sure you secure the area.”
Bryant further mentioned that she learned from a Los Angeles Times article that a county sheriff’s deputy showed people photos of the crash at a bar. She declared, “I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and [those photos] popping up.” Employees of the county’s police and fire departments primarily shared the pictures between themselves. The county argued that while employees took and shared the photos, an immediate order to delete them prevented the employees from widely sharing them among the public. Previously, Li announced that Bryant would donate all of the money from the settlement to her Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which serves to honor her husband and daughter.
(Sources: CNN, NY Times)