Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, has settled with Los Angeles County for $28.85 million, ending the legal saga over photos taken of her late husband at the helicopter crash site.
The widow alleged that the fire and sheriff’s departments shared photos of the aftermath of the accident. Those photos included the bodies of the victims, in particular that of Kobe and her 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Along with seven others, the Los Angeles Lakers legend and Gianna died in the crash on January 26, 2020.
Vanessa argued that the photos were shared for entertainment purposes and that the first responders had no legitimate reason to have them. She also felt that the first responders were using the material almost as a souvenir.
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The jury found that the first responders violated their constitutional rights to control images of deaths in the family.
Lawyers for both plaintiffs argued that it was an invasion of privacy that caused further emotional distress and fear that the family would see the photos of their deceased relatives.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Ms. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Vanessa’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement.
“She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family was treated with similar disrespect. We hope her trial victory and this settlement put an end to this practice.”
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He had previously won $15 million in federal court, but the new settlement also includes his three surviving daughters as additional plaintiffs. Bryant and Christopher Chester are suing Los Angeles County, and their attorneys say “close-up photos” were shared on various devices within the sheriff’s department and the fire department, and with members of the public.
Chester, whose wife and daughter died in the accident, also won $15 million.
The families of the crash victims reached a confidential settlement in 2021 with the helicopter company involved in the crash.
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Vanessa has said the proceeds will go to charity: Los Angeles County has since donated $50 million in the test.