Vanessa Bryant, wife of deceased NBA star Kobe Bryant, has reached a settlement of over $28 million over photos that were taken of her husband's helicopter crash by Los Angeles County authorities, according to CNN.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Fire departments were found liable in August 2022 for violating the rights of Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester, the husband of a woman killed in the same crash.
The L.A. County authorities were found to have infringed upon the plaintiff's constitutional rights by taking and sharing graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed nine people. The photos purportedly showed close-up, detailed images of mangled corpses.
Bryant and Chester said that the photos caused emotional distress and violated their privacy. Both testified that they feared the photos might resurface, with Bryant also claiming she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since learning about the photos. The county insisted the photos had since been destroyed.
The original damages totaled $31 million for Bryant and Chester combined, and after court corrections, both parties received $15 million each.
However, Bryant's settlement of $28.85 million includes the initial sum, in addition to money paid to resolve any outstanding or future legal claims against the county.
“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,” said Mira Hashmall, lead trial counsel for Los Angeles County.
During 11 days of testimony, witnesses revealed that the graphic photos were shown to people in multiple questionable circumstances. One deputy said he showed the photos to two people at a bar, while another deputy said he shared them over a video game.
A fire official also showed the images to others during an awards ceremony cocktail hour.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Luis Li, an attorney representing Bryant, said 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," he added.
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