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Kobe Bryant’s family to get $28.5m from LA in photo case

Deal resolves claims involving first responders sharing photos of the fatal US helicopter crash that left nine dead, including Bryant.

The family of the late Kobe Bryant has agreed to a $28.5 million settlement with Los Angeles County to resolve remaining claims in a lawsuit over deputies and firefighters sharing horrific photos of the NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash, according to lawyers and court records.

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

The agreement will settle any future claims from Bryant’s three surviving daughters, related issues pending in state court and other costs. A proposed settlement, which must be approved by a judge, was filed in federal court on Tuesday.

“Today marks the successful culmination of Ms. Bryant’s courageous fight to hold accountable those guilty of this grotesque behavior,” Bryant’s lawyer Luis Li said in a statement released Tuesday. “She fought for her husband, her 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” and added, “We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss.”

Kobe Bryant, the former Lakers star, five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, was on his way to a youth basketball game with his daughter Gianna and seven others when the helicopter they were in crashed. hills collapsed in Calabasas west of Los Angeles on January 26, 2020.

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

But the photos were shared, mostly between county sheriff’s and fire department employees, including some playing video games and attending an awards banquet. They were also seen by some of their husbands and in one instance by a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking.

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

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

Vanessa Bryant tearfully testified at the 11-day trial that the news of the photos still exacerbated her raw grief a month after losing her husband and daughter, and that she still has panic attacks at the thought that the images might still be there. always his and her daughters can ever see them online.

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

Federal security officials blamed pilot error for the crash itself.

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