Kobe Bryant’s Widow Settles Crash Photos Suit for $28.85 Million

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, has reached a settlement of close to $30 million with Los Angeles County over leaked graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed the basketball player and their 13-year-old daughter Giann.

The $28.85 million settlement closes Bryant’s remaining litigation and future claims against Los Angeles County after its sheriff’s department and fire department shared photos of the crash victims, which included the Lakers Legend and his daughter.

Bryant had previously won $15 million in federal court (initially $16 million before a juror discovered an error) in her initial lawsuit against L.A. County, but that wasn’t the end of the county’s exposure. The new settlement, which includes that previously won money, will also see Bryant’s children added as plaintiffs to finalize the deal.

“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Luis Li, Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, says in a statement. “She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice.”

Chris Chester, a co-plaintiff whose wife and daughter was also killed in the crash, received a $19.95 million settlement.

‘Visual Gossip’

During the trial, Bryant’s lawyers documented how the crash photos had spread from the phones of deputies and firefighters, sometimes in the context of entertainment. The images were flashed from a sheriff’s deputy’s phone screen to a bartender at a bar.

The photographs were shown to firefighters and their spouses during an awards gala at a hotel in Universal City in what amounted, one witness said, to a “party trick.” The images were also passed from one deputy to another as the pair played video games.

Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li told jurors that the close-up photos had no official or investigative purpose and were mere “visual gossip” shared out of a gruesome curiosity.

Following the crash, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed in a “Kobe Bryant law”. The Bill which was passed in September 2020 makes it illegal for first responders to shoot unauthorized photos of dead bodies at the scene of accidents and crimes.

The total cost of the scandal for L.A. County now sits at over $50 million when adding two $1.25 million settlements for the other families involved in the crash.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.