Vanessa Bryant breaks down after $23 million payout over Kobe photos

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Vanessa Bryant has been awarded a multimillion dollar payout from a jury after winning her civil suit against Los Angeles County. Pictures: Getty Images
Vanessa Bryant has been awarded a multimillion dollar payout from a jury after winning her civil suit against Los Angeles County. Pictures: Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant has broken down after a jury ruled in her favour in her civil case against the Los Angeles County, launched in response to first responders who took and shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash which claimed the life of husband Kobe.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were aboard a helicopter with seven other passengers when it crashed in the Los Angeles Hills in January 2020.

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The crash sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world and left the Bryant family devastated, however their pain was worsened when it came to light that sherriff's deputies and firefighters who first attended the scene had shared photos they had taken with members of the public.

Some of the images taken were graphic, showing the bodies of various passengers including the Bryants, with the court hearing they were shown to a bartender and friends during a video gaming session.

Vanessa Bryant sued alongside Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also perished in the crash.

Together the pair were awarded some $46 million in damages after successfully suing Los Angeles County for emotional damages, with the court awarding Bryant $23 million of that figure.

A fear of the images one day surfacing online was the primary motivator for the pair to turn to the court.

Bryant wept while the verdict was read and left court without speaking to waiting reporters.

She later posted a picture on Instagram of her with her late husband and daughter, with the caption: "All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"

Chester's lawyer on Tuesday had called for $1 million for every year of the plaintiffs' expected lives, a figure that amounted to $40 million for 40-year-old Bryant, and $30 million for 48-year-old Chester.

"You can't award too much money for what they went through," said attorney Jerry Jackson.

Bryant family earns payout over tragic crash photos

Bryant's lawyer Craig Lavoie said he was asking for "justice and accountability" for the basketball great — a hero to the city of Los Angeles — and his widow.

"We're here because of intentional conduct. Intentional conduct by those who were charged with protecting the dignity of Sarah and Payton, and Kobe and Gianna."

"The county violated Mrs Bryant and Mr Chester's constitutional rights," Lavoie said, asking the jury to hold the county liable for "the constitutional violations of its employees."

For the county, Mira Hashmall said that while employees had broken confidentiality policies, Bryant and Chester's privacy had not been violated because the pictures had never been in the public domain.

"This is a photo case, but there are no photos," she told jurors earlier. "There's a simple truth that cannot be ignored — there's been no public dissemination."

Vanessa Bryant was embraced by the basketball world after the tragic deaths of husbane Kobe and daughter Gigi. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Vanessa Bryant was embraced by the basketball world after the tragic deaths of husbane Kobe and daughter Gigi. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

After the verdict, Hashmall said she and fellow lawyers would be consulting with the county about "next steps."

"Meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss," a statement said.

Relatives of other victims of the crash were last year granted a total $2.5 million in compensation over the photo-taking.

The jury's order came as Los Angeles celebrated "Mamba Day" on August 24, or 8/24, the two numbers Kobe Bryant wore over 20 years as a professional.

An investigation into the crash found the pilot had probably become disoriented after flying the Sikorsky S-76 into fog as he transported his passengers to a girls' basketball tournament in nearby Thousand Oaks.

Kobe Bryant is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players ever, a figure who became the face of his sport during a glittering two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

With AFP

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