Vanessa Bryant sobs openly in court as jury announces she WON $16M from LA County after its emergency responders shared photos of late husband Kobe and daughter Gianna’s bodies in wake of grisly helicopter crash
- Vanessa Bryant, 40, has been awarded $16 million in damages for invasion of privacy after photos of her dead husband and daughter’s bodies were taken
- The jury in Los Angeles began deliberations in the multi-million-dollar civil trail on Wednesday morning, and returned a verdict in less than a day
- Bryant sobbed as the decision was announced at the end of a two-week trial, in which the court heard harrowing testimony about the graphic pictures
- Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who rushed to the scene of the January 2020 smash took pictures of the carnage and the victims
- Some of these first responders showed the photographs to members of the public, while one deputy texted them to a friend as the pair played video games
- In its defense, Los Angeles County says the pictures have never become public and officials have been diligent in efforts to scrub them from devices
- But Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also perished in the crash, live in fear of these photographs surfacing on the internet one day
- The pair sued for emotional damages over the photos, in suits that have been combined: Chester was awarded $15 million
- Chester’s lawyer on Tuesday said the jury should award each of them a million dollars for every year of their remaining expected life
Kobe Bryant’s dead body was unlawfully photographed by officials, a Los Angeles jury has concluded at the end of a two-week invasion of privacy trial brought by his widow Vanessa.
The jury awarded Vanessa Bryant $16 million in compensation, after less than a day deliberating. Her co-defendant Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the helicopter crash that killed eight, was awarded $15 million.
Bryant broke down in tears as the verdict was announced. She was comforted by her daughter Natalia, whose 13-year-old sister Gianna also died in the helicopter crash that killed the 41-year-old basketball superstar.
A court reporter for the website Law and Crime said that Bryant turned in her seat to look at the jury, mouthing the words ‘thank you’. She then hugged her lead lawyer, Luis Li.
The jury found that sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who rushed to the scene of the January 2020 smash unlawfully snapped pictures of the carnage, including the mangled remains of the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his daughter.
In a minor victory for the firefighters, the jury found that they do not have a custom or practice of sharing photos of deceased people – only that the fire department lacks sufficient training and policies.
They did conclude, however, that the sheriff’s department has a practice of sharing the pictures from accidents, as well as insufficient training.
The sum is less than the $40 million which lawyers said Bryant was entitled to, but more than that received by relatives of other victims – who were last year granted $2.5 million in compensation over the photo-taking.
Bryant and Chester refused to join their case, and launched their own.
Vanessa Bryant, in white, is seen on Wednesday morning walking into court with her daughter Natalia, 19 (in brown dress) and family friend Sydney Leroux, a soccer player (far left)
The civil trial in Los Angeles has heard how some of these first responders showed the photographs to members of the public – including a bartender – while one deputy texted them to a friend as the pair played video games.
In its defense, Los Angeles County said the pictures have never become public and officials have been diligent in efforts to scrub them from devices.
But the two-week trial heard how Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also perished in the crash, live in fear of these photographs surfacing on the internet one day.
The pair both sued for emotional damages over the photos, in suits that have been combined.
Chester’s lawyer on Tuesday said the jury should award each of them a million dollars for every year of their remaining expected life – a figure that would amount to $40 million for 40-year-old Bryant and $30 million for 48-year-old Chester.
Vanessa, dressed in white on Wednesday, told a jury during the two-week trial in LA that she fears images of the crash scene will become public
Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter died in the crash, are both suing for emotional damages over the photos, in suits that have been combined
Attorney Jerry Jackson called the figure ‘a fair and reasonable compensation. You can’t award too much money for what they went through.’
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 – 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.’
An investigation into the crash found the pilot had probably become disorientated after flying the Sikorsky S-76 into fog.
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.
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