Vanessa Bryant has settled her remaining claims against Los Angeles County over the misuse of photos from the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter, Gianna Bryant for nearly $30million.
Last August, a jury awarded Vanessa Bryant $15million for her federal claims. The settlement recorded Tuesday included that figure and pertained additionally to state claims of invasion of privacy.
Bryant also added her two youngest daughters – Capri and Bianka – to the deal in order to finalize the settlement.
‘Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,’ said Luis Li, Bryant’s attorney.
‘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.’
Vanessa Bryant was awarded a nearly $30million settlement by LA County on Tuesday evening in the wake of inappropriate pictures circulating of the crash that killed her husband and daughter
LA County fire and sheriff’s office employees survey the scene of the crash in January 2020
Li has previously said that Bryant would donate proceeds from the lawsuit to her Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which honors her late husband and daughter.
Bryant has said that she wanted the money to ‘shine a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.’
On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, were in a helicopter with seven other people. The chopper crashed in foggy conditions outside LA, resulting in the deaths of all on board.
Just after her family members’ deaths, Vanessa Bryant learned that some employees of the county’s fire and sheriff’s departments had shared graphic photos of human remains from the crash.
She sued the county for negligence and invasion of privacy eight months later and won at trial last August, when a jury awarded her the multi-million dollar sum.
‘This settlement now concludes all County-related litigation related to the tragic January 2020 helicopter crash,’ said the county’s lead trial lawyer, Mira Hashmall.
‘We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss.’
Kobe Bryant, who played as a star for the Los Angeles Lakers for two decades before retiring in 2016, was on his way to coach his teen daughter’s basketball team at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California on the day of the crash.
An inspection of the wreckage and flight records indicated that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, became disoriented in the clouds and crashed into a hill near Calabasas, killing all nine people on board.
The Los Angeles County sheriff at the time, Alex Villanueva, asked the newly widowed Bryant if there was anything he could do for her.
During a deposition, Bryant said she asked the sheriff ‘that no one takes photographs of them,’ referring to her deceased husband and daughter.
She said that Villanueva assured her he would prevent that from happening, to which she said, ‘No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure you secure the area.’
Bryant then testified at trial that she learned from a report in the Los Angeles Times that an LA County sheriff’s deputy had showed pictures of the crash at a bar.
‘I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up,’ she said.
Vanessa Bryant walks hand-in-hand with daughter Natalia, soccer star Sydney Leroux, a friend and her lawyer Luis Li as they leave court in Downton Los Angeles, CA. Wednesday, August 24, 2022. She was previously awarded $15million
Kobe and Gianna Bryant, both of whom perished in the helicopter crash along with seven others
The chopper crashed into a hill near Calabasas after cloudy conditions confused the pilot
Bryant testified at trial that she learned from a report in the Los Angeles Times that an LA County sheriff’s deputy had showed pictures of the crash that showed human remains at a bar
Attorneys for the county argued in court that the photos were taken and shared, but said that an immediate order to delete them kept them from going wide.
The pictures were reportedly shared primarily between employees of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire departments.
Attorneys for the county argued in court that the photos were taken and shared, but said that an immediate order to delete them kept them from circulating more widely.
In August, the jury also awarded $15million to Chris Chester, who joined the suit because his wife and daughter were also killed in the crash. The county agreed to pay the Chester family an additional nearly $5million to resolve any future claims.
Two other families separately settled with the county over the photos for $1.25million each in October of 2021.