Vanessa Bryant, widow of departed NBA legend Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash along with their 13-year-old daughter Gianna in 2020, has been awarded $16 million in damages from Los Angeles County stemming from leaked photos of the crash site taken by first responders, according to an NBC News report.
The suit was filed by Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also perished in the crash, after it came out that Los Angeles County employees had taken and shared unauthorized photos of the crash that included human remains. They sued for an undisclosed sum totaling tens of millions of dollars in damages for emotional distress and violations of privacy. After deliberating for a reported four and a half hours, the jury awarded Bryant $16 million and Chester $15 million.
Mira Hashmall, one of the attorneys representing LA County in the case, took issue with the verdict but pointed out that the jury gave both plaintiffs significantly less than what they were seeking:
"While we disagree with the jury's findings as to the County's liability, we believe the monetary award shows that jurors didn't believe the evidence supported the plaintiffs' request of $75 million for emotional distress."
Nine people altogether died in the tragic crash, and lawyers for Bryant and Chester argued that they suffered additional emotional distress after learning that certain LA County firefighters and other first responders had taken photographic "souvenirs" of the accident, going on to share them with friends and colleagues.
For her part, Vanessa Bryant took to social media to celebrate the verdict, calling it a victory for both her late husband and daughter:
"All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"
Closing arguments in the case commenced on August 23rd, on what would have been the Laker star's 44th birthday.