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L.A. County to Pay $28.85 Million Settlement to Kobe Bryant’s Family over Graphic Crash Site Images

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

In January of 2020, the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others shook the world. This incident caused grief for their families, loved ones, and millions of fans worldwide. Flash forward three years and Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, and Los Angeles County have settled their legal dispute for $28.85 million over pictures that deputies exchanged following the 2020 helicopter disaster.

The $28.85 million settlement between Vanessa and LA County includes $15 million already awarded by a jury in August after a trial in federal court. Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter perished in the collision, also received a $19.95 million payout. This case arose after Los Angeles County sheriff's and fire department employees shared the gruesome images of the crash site. The photos were distributed and, in one case, even shown by a local bartender at a bar where one of the deputies was drinking.

In August, Vanessa Bryant testified that the release of the photos added to her grief a month after the horrific accident. She reported having panic attacks at the thought of the pictures circulating. Vanessa Bryant considers the settlement a massive victory after years of litigation. It serves as a warning to other law enforcement authorities that it is unacceptable to act similarly. In a statement, Vanessa Bryant's lawyer, Luis Li, expressed his hope that their win will deter future instances of this happening.

This deal is a significant blow to Los Angeles County. When you factor in two $1.25 million settlements for the other families involved, the incident now costs LA County over $50 million. The damages awarded might influence future decisions about how the county manages sensitive data and evidence. The settlement "resolves all outstanding issues related to pending legal claims in state court, future claims by the Bryant children, and other costs, with each party responsible for its respective attorney's fees." This quote is from Mira Hashmall, LA County's primary for this case.

In conclusion, this settlement represents a significant victory for Vanessa Bryant and the families involved. This case clearly states that the unauthorized release of sensitive information and evidence will no longer be tolerated. It may change how the county manages such details moving forward. The three-year legal dispute will finally come to an end when the court approves the deal.

AJ Calabro is a former student-athlete at Syracuse University and a current law student at Roger Williams University. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @AJ_Calabro.


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