In the eight months following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash, widowed wife and mother Vanessa Bryant decided to pursue a lawsuit against the county of Los Angeles for negligence and invasion of privacy. This came after a group of deputies reportedly took graphic photos from the crash site and disseminated them out. Bryant won the case last week, but in a new development, her earnings for the civil trial have been reduced by seven figures.
After the jury found LA County liable, Vanessa Bryant was initially awarded $16 million in the verdict and her fellow plaintiff, Chris Chester, who also lost his partner and daughter, was given $15 million. However, Bryant’s amount has been reduced by $1 million to a total of $15 million due to a court error. The decision was noted by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, who said the jury’s intention was to give Bryant and Chester an equal amount in the verdict.
The widowed wife of Kobe Bryant agreed to the change in the verdict over the weekend and the jury was not called back to court regarding the matter, per USA Today (opens in new tab). With the change put in place, Vanessa Bryant will be awarded $1.5 million by the sheriff’s department for past emotional distress (rather than $2.5 million), $6 million from the L.A. County Fire Department for emotional suffering and $7.5 million for future suffering from the department as a result of the images being taken and shared of her deceased family’s remains from the 2020 crash. Bryant plans to donate the money to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which will benefit the funding of sports programming to underserved athletes.
In September 2020, Bryant filed the lawsuit against Los Angeles County following the photos being shared. The lawsuit also alleged at the time Sheriff Alex Villanueva had not taken action against his deputies until a complaint was filed. Vanessa Bryant didn’t take the stand until earlier this month, August 10, when she shared that she still experiences panic attacks due to the existence and sharing of the photos.
Her lawyer, Luis Li, claimed the photos of the remains of Kobe and Gianna Bryant were passed around to at least 28 sheriff’s department devices and to at least 12 firefighters. Among the evidence shown in court to the jury was a video of an off-duty deputy showing the photos to a bartender while drinking at a bar. Employees of LA County also allegedly shared the photos in a bar while “pantomiming dismemberment and showing off the photos over cocktails at an awards gala,” per The Washington Post.
During the trial, Bryant even called upon an expert from Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s recent high-profile case. While one former captain took the stand a couple of weeks ago, he spoke of being shown the photos and saying they were “going to haunt me forever” when he took the stand. Bryant has received a lot of support for her case, including kind words from Shaquille O’Neal, who said it was a “great thing holding people responsible” for actions that negatively impacted her and her family.
This week, Vanessa Bryant also paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on his birthday, who would have turned 44 on August 23. Following the verdict, she can hopefully rest easy knowing she’s found justice for her negligence and invasion of privacy case against the LA County.
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