Vanessa Bryant settles crash photos suit for $28.85 million

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Vanessa Bryant settled her remaining claims with Los Angeles County for $28.85 million over photos that deputies shared after a 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband, former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant; their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; and seven others.

The settlement included the $15 million a jury already awarded Vanessa Bryant in August after a trial in federal court.

"Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant's courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct," Luis Li, Vanessa Bryant's attorney, said in a statement. "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."

Mira Hashmall, the lead lawyer representing Los Angeles County in the case, called the settlement "fair and reasonable" and said it "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 attorneys' fees."

Co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter were also killed in the crash, received a $19.95 million settlement.

The photos from the crash were shared mostly among employees of the Los Angeles County sheriff's and fire departments, including by some who were playing video games and attending an awards banquet. They also were seen by some of their spouses and in one case by a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking.

During the 11-day trial in August, Vanessa Bryant testified that news of the photos compounded her grief a month after the crash and that she had panic attacks at the thought that the photos might still be out there.

Kobe Bryant 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. All nine people on board were killed.

Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the crash.