Vanessa Bryant awarded $23 million for emotional distress over photos of husband Kobe and daughter Gianna’s bodies


The LA County should pay Vanessa Bryant hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in compensation for emotional distress over footage that have been taken of her husband and teenage daughter’s bodies after they died in a helicopter crash, a US jury has discovered.

Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven different individuals died en path to a basketball event in January 2020 within the crash, which was blamed on pilot error.

LA deputies and firefighters who have been among the many first on the scene took footage of the victims’ stays and confirmed them to individuals not related to the investigation, which Mrs Bryant says compounded her still-raw grief and brought on ongoing distress.

Here’s what we all know in regards to the conclusion of the case.

What was the LA County sued for?

Ms Bryant mentioned the photographing and sharing of photographs of her husband and kid’s bodies was an invasion of privateness and brought on  important emotional distress.

The footage, captured by first responders, have been shared largely between workers of the LA County sheriff and fireplace departments — together with in non-work-related settings.

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Kobe Bryant with his family and wife at a basketball game in Los Angels.
Gigi Bryant was simply 13 when she died on the way in which to a basketball event.(AP)

They have been additionally seen by some of their spouses and in a single case by a bartender at a bar the place a deputy was consuming.

“I stay in concern daily of being on social Media and these popping up,” Mrs Bryant testified in court docket.

“I live in fear of my daughters being on social Media and these popping up.”

A lawyer for the county acknowledged that the photographs should not have been shared, however informed jurors that the truth that the photographs haven’t gone public confirmed due diligence throughout the departments.

What occurred in court docket? 

The trial ran for a number of days and the jury deliberated for about 4 hours earlier than reaching the decision.

An legal professional for the county argued all through the trial that the photos have been taken as normal apply however Ms Bryant’s lawyer, Luis Li, informed jurors that the close-up photos had no official or investigative function and have been used as “visual gossip”, shared out of a ugly curiosity.

Ms Bryant cried in court docket because the jury unanimously agreed that the photos invaded her privateness and brought on emotional distress.

The county has been ordered to pay $US16 million (greater than $23 million).

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Dressed in black and standing at a podium, Vanessa Bryant turns her head away and holds a tissue to her eye.
Vanessa Bryant described her husband as “loving, adoring and romantic” at a memorial in LA.(AP: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Chris Chester, whose spouse Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton have been amongst these killed within the crash, was additionally a plaintiff within the case.

He was awarded $US15 million, bringing the whole jury award to $US31 million.

His lawyer, Jerry Jackson, mentioned after the decision that they have been “grateful for a jury and a judge who gave us a fair trial.”

Has the Bryant household responded?

Ms Bryant shared an image of herself, Kobe and Gianna on Instagram quickly after the decision, with the caption: “All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!”

She did not converse to reporters as she left the court docket, nonetheless visibly emotional.

The determination got here on August 24 within the US, often called “Mamba Day” — the day after what would have been Kobe Bryant’s forty fourth birthday, and a nod to his basketball jersey numbers throughout his time with the Lakers, 24 and 8.

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What in regards to the officers who took the photos?

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva mentioned within the weeks after the crash that he had ordered eight of his deputies to delete graphic photos of the positioning — however did not launch a proper inquiry into their conduct.

One deputy testified in court docket that he was instructed to {photograph} the scene on his private cell phone and despatched them to supervisors, however mentioned he deleted them when he bought dwelling that evening.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” he informed the court docket.

Laws have been handed in California within the months after the crash making it unlawful for first responders to {photograph} a physique for any motive “other than an official law enforcement purpose or a genuine public interest”.

ABC/wires

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