Kobe Bryant’s widow gets almost $29m settlement from LA
Los Angeles County has agreed to pay nearly $29m (£24m) to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant’s widow after police shared graphic images of his fatal helicopter crash two years ago.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna died along with seven others when the aircraft crashed in the LA area.
His wife, Vanessa Bryant, sued, saying first responders photographed human remains as tradable “souvenirs”.
Lawyers for LA County called the settlement “fair and reasonable”.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” lawyers for the plaintiff said in a statement on Tuesday.
“She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice.”
In a statement, Mira Hashmall, the lead trial counsel for Los Angeles County in the case, said all county-related litigation from the crash had been resolved.
She said the $28,850,000 settlement included the $16m awarded by a federal jury in August 2022 to Mrs Bryant in her invasion of privacy lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
“We hope Ms Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss,” Ms Hashmall said.
Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the 26 January 2020 crash, separately settled with the county for nearly $20m, attorneys told US media on Tuesday.
In March 2021 Mrs Bryant shared the names of four sheriff’s deputies she said had distributed “gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches”, who had been travelling to a basketball game.
She said the pictures, including those of her 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were taken and shared “for no reason other than morbid gossip”.
Mrs Bryant testified at the trial that she had read in media reports how photos of the crash were shown at a pub by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy.
“I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up,” she told the court.
California has since passed a state law prohibiting first responders from taking unauthorised pictures of people who die at the scene of an accident or crime.
The aircraft in the crash that killed Bryant – a Sikorsky S-76B – went down into a hillside outside the city of Calabasas.
Conditions were foggy when the flight took off, and local police had grounded their helicopters due to the poor weather.