Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, has been awarded $16 million in damages after winning a lawsuit against Los Angeles county.
The lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant alleged emotional distress caused after the rescuers and firefighters at Kobe’s helicopter crash site shared the pictures of his and his daughter’s dead bodies among themselves.
Her co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter were among the nine people killed in the crash, was awarded $15 million.
The nine jurors, after deliberating for 4 and a half hours, unanimously agreed with Bryant and her attorneys that the photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna invaded her privacy and brought her emotional distress.
During the trial, J. Mira Hashmall representing the county argued that the photos were a necessary tool for assessing the situation while Bryant’s lawyer Luis Li in his rebuttal told jurors that the close-up photos had no official or investigative purpose, and were mere “visual gossip” shared out of a gruesome curiosity.
The pictures were shared mostly between employees of the LA County sheriffs and fire departments including by 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 a deputy was drinking which seemed to favour Bryant’s claims.
The five-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant along with seven others was killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when his helicopter crashed into the hills of Calabasas west of Los Angeles.
Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the crash.
He has been honoured post-humously all over the world because of his impact on the game of basketball. NBA has named its all-star game trophy in his honour while he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.