After 'Grotesque Conduct,' $29M for Kobe Bryant's Family

Widow Vanessa Bryant had sued over pics taken at scene of crash that killed Kobe, daughter Gianna
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2023 6:10 AM CST
Kobe Bryant's Family Agrees to $29M Settlement Over Pics
Vanessa Bryant, center, Kobe Bryant's widow, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Aug. 24.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Last summer, a federal jury decided that Vanessa Bryant, widow of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, was entitled to $15 million from Los Angeles County. The award was bestowed in regard to a lawsuit over photos taken and shared by first responders of the bodies of her husband, 41, and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who died in January 2020 following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, along with seven others. Now, the county has agreed to hand over $13.5 million more to Vanessa Bryant and her three surviving daughters, ages 3, 6, and 20, for any future claims from the family, bringing the total settlement amount to nearly $29 million, for both past and future emotional distress, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

"Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant's courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct," read a statement from Luis Li, her attorney, per the New York Times. "We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice." Bryant's complaint, filed for negligence and invasion of privacy, came about after she discovered not long after the fatal Jan. 26, 2020, accident that sheriff's deputies and firefighters had taken pictures at the crash scene and then circulated them.

Bryant testified during the trial that she'd found out, via a Los Angeles Times report, that a sheriff's deputy had shared crash photos at a bar. County lawyers said that the photos had mostly been shared among county employees before being deleted, and that they never made their way to the public. The photos were also seen, however, by spouses of some workers, as well as a bartender at the bar, reports the AP. "I live in fear every day ... of being on social media and having these photographs pop up," especially in front of her children, she said at the time, per USA Today.

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An attorney representing LA County called the final settlement "fair and reasonable," adding: "We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss." Li has said in the past that Bryant would donate any money awarded from the suit to her Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which helps underserved athletes. A judge still has to OK the proposed settlement order filed Tuesday. At least three other families whose loved ones died in the crash have also reached settlements with LA County. (More Vanessa Bryant stories.)

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