Vanessa Bryant awarded $16m in lawsuit over Kobe crash scene photos
Los Angeles, US, Aug 24 (EFE).- Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant was awarded $16 million in damages Wednesday as part of a $31 million payout over the dissemination of grisly photographs of the helicopter crash in which the NBA star and his daughter died, US media reported.
Co-plaintiff Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the same 2020 crash, was also awarded $15 million by the federal jury in Los Angeles.
The decision of nine jurors came a day after Kobe’s birthday. He would have turned 44 on Tuesday. Wednesday is also informally known among Lakers fans as Kobe Bryant Day, since Aug. 24 combines the two numbers worn by the player (24 and eight).
Vanessa Bryant’s attorneys accused Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire departments of taking and sharing photos of the crash scene, including bodies, which invaded her privacy and brought her emotional distress, even though they have not been made public.
They said that deputies and members of the fire department showed the photos among their close circles on various occasions, including in a bar where they were shown to a bartender.
Bryant said last week in her testimony that she felt “blindsided, devastated, hurt and betrayed” by the LA county employees, adding that she has not seen the images because she wants to “remember [Kobe and teenager Gianna] as they were.”
Kobe’s widow said she lives in fear that her children will one day come across the images on the internet.
During the opening of the trial, Bryant’s lawyer argued that the photos were not taken for any official purpose but to become “visual gossip” viewed “for a laugh.”
“They were shared by deputies playing video games,” Luis Li said. “They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them.”
The defense argued that the photos have not appeared on the internet in the more than two-and-a-half years since the accident and that is proof the staff were diligent.
Last year, Bryant reached a financial settlement with the helicopter company she had sued over the accident.
An investigation found that the helicopter pilot had probably become disoriented in fog.
Kobe is the fourth all-time leading scorer in the NBA (33,643 points), five-time NBA champion and an icon for the Los Angeles Lakers. EFE