Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant, has been awarded $16 million in damages from LA county after emergency responders shared photos of the dead bodies of her husband and daughter Gianna Bryant.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020 that killed nine others. Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who rushed to the scene of the tragic incident had taken photos of the carnage, including photos of the deceased basketball player and his daughter. Some of the first responders had shown the photos to members of the public, and one had even texted them to a friend. Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester —whose wife and daughter also passed away in the crash, sued for emotional damage and invasion of privacy over the photos.
LA county argued that the photos had never been made public, and that diligent effort had been made to scrub the photos from devices. “To claim privacy and then put all these details in public — it defies logic,” said Mira Hashmall, a lawyer for the county, noting that although this was a photographs case, there were no photographs.
However, Bryant and Chester’s counsel noted that the two lived in fear that the photos might resurface on the internet someday. Chester’s lawyer said the county should pay Bryant and Chester $1 million each year for the remainder of their expected lives.
A Los Angeles jury began to deliberate the two-week long case on Wednesday morning and announced the verdict in less than a day, awarding Vanessa $16 million in damages, while Chris Chester was to receive $15 million. Bryant was seen sobbing as the jury announced its verdict about the case which had seen everyone listen to harrowing testimonies about the graphic pictures.
The sheriff’s department was ordered to pay Vanessa $2.5 million for emotional distress already suffered and $7.5 million for future suffering. The fire department has to pay her $1 million for past and $5 million for future suffering.