Kobe Bryant's Wife Wins Big In Lawsuit Against L.A. County & Promises Money Will Go To Charity

By Seth Cutler | Sunday, 28 August 2022 16:45
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Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa, was given $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict Wednesday against Los Angeles County for deputies and firefighters sharing grisly pictures of the NBA star; their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; and other victims murdered in a 2020 helicopter crash. The NBA Star's widow said she plans on donating all the money awarded.

The nine jurors unanimously agreed with Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys that the photos invaded her privacy and caused emotional distress. She sobbed quietly as the verdict was read.

The jury deliberated 4½ hours before reaching the verdict on Kobe Bryant Day, which is commemorated in the city of L.A. on Aug. 24 because it represents his jersey numbers -- 8 and 24 -- and is the day after his birthday. Tuesday would have been Bryant's 44th birthday.

After the verdict, Vanessa Bryant posted a picture on Instagram of herself with her husband and daughter.

"All for you!" the caption stated. "I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"

An attorney for the county refused to comment on the verdict outside the courtroom.

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The photos were primarily shared among employees of the L.A. County sheriff's and fire departments, including by some playing video games and attending an awards banquet. They further were seen by some of their spouses and in one case by a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking.

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Vanessa Bryant tearfully testified throughout the 11-day trial that news of the pictures compounded her still-raw grief a month after the deaths of her husband and daughter, and that she still has panic attacks at the thought that the photos might still be out there.

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"I live in fear every day of being on social media and these popping up," she testified. "I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up."

Her co-plaintiff, Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter was among the nine people killed in the crash, was given $15 million.

"We're grateful for a jury and a judge who gave us a fair trial," Chester's lawyer Jerry Jackson announced.

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Vanessa Bryant's attorneys did not give jurors a dollar amount they thought their client deserved, yet Chester's attorney gave them proposed guidelines that would have meant tens of millions for each plaintiff.

Vanessa Bryant and her attorney refused to comment outside court Wednesday. Her face was still streaked with tears as she walked past TV cameras and dozens of reporters and climbed into an SUV.

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Vanessa Bryant's lawyer Luis Li told jurors that the close-up pictures had no official or investigative purpose, and were mere "visual gossip" shared out of a gruesome curiosity.

County attorney J. Mira Hashmall claimed throughout the trial that the photos were a necessary tool for assessing the situation.

She acknowledged that they should not have been shared with everyone who saw them. But she emphasized that the photos had never appeared publicly and had never been seen by the plaintiffs. She announced that meant that Sheriff Alex Villanueva and different officials had taken decisive and effective action when they ordered those who had the photos to delete them.

Kobe Bryant, the former Lakers star, five-time NBA champion and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, was traveling with Gianna and seven others to a youth basketball game when the helicopter they were aboard crashed into hills in Calabasas west of Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020.







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