Jury awards $16M in damages to Vanessa Bryant, $15M to Chris Chester in Kobe Bryant crash photo trial
Update: Vanessa Bryant was awarded $16M in damages for invasion of privacy after photos of her dead husband and daughter's bodies were taken and shown to others. She had sued the LA County for this blatant disregard of privacy which caused her and her family a lot of heartache and distress.
When she initially filed the lawsuit, she was criticized for misusing the taxpayers money despite being a billionaire herself. However, Vanessa has decided to put this money to good use. The money won in damages will all be donated to the Mamba & Mambacita Foundation, a nonprofit organization, promoted by her late husband, dedicated to creating a positive impact for underserved athletes and boys and girls in sport.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: A jury awarded $16 million to Vanessa Bryant on August 24 in her lawsuit against Los Angeles County over the sharing of photos of human remains from the 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband and NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and her daughter Gianna, along with seven others.
According to CNBC, the nine jurors, who deliberated for four and half hours before reaching the verdict on the 11th day of the civil trial, went into graphic detail about gruesome photos that were taken and shared from the scene of a helicopter crash in January 2020, agreed with Vanessa, who walked into court wearing all white, and her attorneys that the shared photos from the crash invaded her privacy and caused emotional distress. The co-plaintiff Chris Chester was also awarded $15 million in damages by the jury, whose wife, Sarah, and daughter, Payton, 13, were among the people killed when their helicopter crashed north of Los Angeles. As per NY Times, Jerry Jackson, Chris' lawyer, said he and the plaintiffs were grateful to the jury and Judge John F Walter, “who gave us a very fair trial.” On the other hand, Mira Hashmall, a partner at the Miller Barondess law firm who is the lead outside counsel for Los Angeles County in the case, as quoted by NBC, disagreed with the verdict. She said, "While we disagree with the jury’s findings as to the County’s liability, we believe the monetary award shows that jurors didn’t believe the evidence supported the plaintiffs’ request of $75 million for emotional distress."
Kobe Bryant photo trial
Vanessa filed a federal lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff’s Department after a deputy and firefighter leaked photos from the crash site. As per The Guardian, her attorney, Luis Li, stated that the phone photos shot at the scene by a deputy and a fire captain were "visual gossip" and viewed "for a laugh," serving no official purpose. The attorney argued, "They were shared by deputies playing video games. They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them."
Vanessa, who tearfully testified, said during the two-week trial, "I live in fear every day of being on social media and these popping up. I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up," as per NPR.