Jury Awards Vanessa Bryant $16 Million In Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Photos Case
Vanessa Bryant has been awarded a significant sum in her civil suit against Los Angeles County regarding improper sharing of photos of the helicopter crash site where her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter were killed along with the other seven people in the aircraft.
After the 11-day trial, which included descriptions and photos of the graphic and horrific crash that likely re-traumatized the grieving Bryant and her family, she was awarded $16 million by a federal jury.
The nine-person jury convened to determine whether L.A. County sheriff’s department and fire department officials violated the privacy rights of Vanessa Bryant and a second plaintiff, Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the same crash when they took photos of the site, potentially due to Kobe Bryant’s fame.
The families of the deceased showed evidence that some of those who took photos have still not been identified, and one fire captain’s hard drive that had photos of the crash was lost. They argued that fear of these photos leaking in the future causes further emotional distress.
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The plaintiffs even accused one sheriff’s deputy trainee of allegedly showing photos of Bryant’s decapitated body to a Norwalk, California bartender, which was supported by an anonymous complaint lodged the same night.
The jury ruled in favor of Chester and Bryant Wednesday, determining the photos were a violation and that the county was liable for the conduct of these emergency responders.
Chester was awarded a $15 million verdict by the jury. In both cases, the responsibility for paying off the damages was split by the jury’s determination between the sheriff and fire departments, and the sheriff’s department has to pay off more than half of both fees.
The combined $31 million judgment falls short of the combined $75 million that the plaintiffs were seeking.
Neither Bryant nor her attorney made any comments while exiting the courthouse. Jerome Jackson, attorney for Chris Chester, told reporters, “We are very grateful for the court and jury which gave us a fair trial.”
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