Jury awards $31 million to plaintiffs in Kobe Bryant accident photo lawsuit

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Los Angeles (AFP) – A jury on Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County to pay $31 million in damages over photos taken by sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who responded to the scene of the helicopter crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant.

The county was ordered to pay $16 million to Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the legendary Los Angeles Lakers star, and $15 million to co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the January 2020 crash in a hill near Los Angeles.

The civil trial in Los Angeles exposed how some members of the first responders showed those photos to people unrelated to the case, in particular a bartender. A deputy from the sheriff’s office also sent them to a friend while they were both playing video games.

In its defense, Los Angeles County argued that the images were never made public and that its top officials were quick to delete them from officers’ electronic devices.

But during the two weeks of the trial, Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester – whose wife and daughter also died in the crash – expressed their constant fear that the images would one day go viral on the internet.

Both parties filed lawsuits for emotional damages.

Chester’s attorney, Jerry Jackson, had asked the jury Tuesday to award the two plaintiffs $1 million for each year of their estimated life expectancy. A figure that would amount to about 40 million dollars for Vanessa Bryant, 40, and 30 million dollars for Chris Chester, 48.

Jackson called the sum “fair and reasonable compensation.” “There isn’t much money to make up for what they’ve been through,” she said. Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer, Craig Lavoie, assured that she was asking for justice and that those involved should be held accountable.

“We are here because of intentional behavior – the county has violated the constitutional rights of Mrs. Bryant and Mr. Chester.” Last year, $2.5 million was awarded to other families of victims in the same case.

Jurors, meeting in downtown Los Angeles, reached their verdict after about four and a half hours of deliberations.

The United States Transportation Safety Commission (NTSB), responsible for the investigation, concluded in February last year that the helicopter pilot was responsible for the accident by committing an “error of judgment” that caused his death. “disorientation” in thick fog.

The death at the age of 41 of Kobe Bryant, legend of the Los Angeles Lakers and considered one of the best basketball players in history, caused anguish throughout the world.

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Jury awards $31 million to plaintiffs in Kobe Bryant accident photo lawsuit