Kobe Bryant’s family settles $28.5 million photo lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of the late Kobe Bryant agreed to a $28.5 million settlement with Los Angeles County to resolve remaining claims in a lawsuit against deputies and firefighters sharing gruesome photos of the NBA starhis 13-year-old daughter and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash, lawyers and court documents said Tuesday.

The figure includes a newly agreed payment from the county of $13.5 million as well as the $15 million a federal jury awarded Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, at a trial in August.

The agreement resolves all future claims of Bryant’s three surviving daughters, related matters pending in state court and other costs. A proposed settlement order, which a judge must approve, was filed Tuesday in Federal Court.

“Today marks the successful culmination of Ms. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement. “She fought for her husband, daughter and everyone in the community whose deceased family was treated with the same disrespect.”

Mira Hashmall, the attorney representing LA County, called the statement “fair and reasonable”, adding, “We hope Mrs. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss.”

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 for a youth basketball game when the helicopter they were in crashed in the Calabasas Hills west of Los Angeles. January 26, 2020.

Deputies and firefighters responding to the crash scene took phone photos of the bodies and wreckage, which Hashmall said at trial was a critical part of assessing the situation.

But the footage was shared, mostly between county sheriff’s employees and firefighters, including some who were playing video games and attending an awards banquet. They were also seen by some of their spouses and in one case by a bartender at a bar where an MP was drinking.

Li told jurors the close-up photos had no official or investigative purpose and were merely “visual gossip” shared out of macabre curiosity.

Hashmall argued the sheriff acted quickly and appropriately when ordering the photos removed.

Vanessa Bryant testified in tears During the 11-day trial, news of the photos added to her grief, which is still raw a month after losing her husband and daughter, and that she is still having panic attacks at the thought that they might still be there down and that his daughters might one day see them online.

The verdict in his favor was erroneously read as $16 million in court, but later changed to $15 million.

Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the accident itself.

Chris Chester, Vanessa Bryant’s co-plaintiff at trial, was also awarded $15 million at trial and reached his own settlement with the county in September for nearly $5 million more.

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