Vanessa Bryant WINS $16m privacy lawsuit against Los Angeles County

Kobe Bryant’s corpse was illegally photographed by officials, a Los Angeles jury has found following a two-week privacy invasion lawsuit filed by his widow Vanessa.

The jury awarded Vanessa Bryant $16 million in compensation, after less than a day of deliberation. His co-defendant Chris Chester, who lost his wife Sarah, 45, and daughter, Payton, 13, in the helicopter crash that killed nine, was awarded $15 million.

Bryant broke down in tears when the verdict was announced. She was comforted by her daughter Natalia, whose 13-year-old sister Gianna also died in the helicopter crash that killed the 41-year-old basketball superstar.

A court reporter for the Law and Crime website said Bryant turned in her seat to look at the jury, saying the words “thank you.” She then hugged her lead attorney, Luis Li.

Vanessa Bryant is seen leaving court on Wednesday after a jury awarded her $16million in damages in her privacy invasion lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant is seen leaving court on Wednesday after a jury awarded her $16million in damages in her privacy invasion lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant (in white) is seen leaving court with her daughter Natalia, 19 (in a brown dress) and family friend Sydney Leroux, a soccer player (far right)

Vanessa Bryant (in white) is seen leaving court with her daughter Natalia, 19 (in a brown dress) and family friend Sydney Leroux, a soccer player (far right)

Bryant is surrounded by photographers and protected by her lawyer Luis Li, as she leaves court on Wednesday at the end of the two-week trial

Bryant is surrounded by photographers and protected by her lawyer Luis Li, as she leaves court on Wednesday at the end of the two-week trial

Vanessa Bryant and husband Kobe are seen in December 2019 at Sean Combs' 50th birthday celebrations in Los Angeles

Vanessa Bryant and husband Kobe are seen in December 2019 at Sean Combs’ 50th birthday celebrations in Los Angeles

The jury found that sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who rushed to the scene of the January 2020 smash unlawfully took photos of the carnage, including the mutilated remains of the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his daughter.

In a minor victory for firefighters, the jury found they had no habit or practice of sharing photos of deceased people – only that the fire department lacked sufficient training and policies.

They concluded, however, that the sheriff’s department had a history of sharing accident photos, as well as insufficient training.

Vanessa Bryant, in white, is seen walking into court on Wednesday morning with her daughter Natalia, 19 (in a brown dress) and family friend Sydney Leroux, a soccer player (far left )

Vanessa Bryant, in white, is seen walking into court on Wednesday morning with her daughter Natalia, 19 (in a brown dress) and family friend Sydney Leroux, a soccer player (far left )

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.  The couple died in January 2020 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. The couple died in January 2020 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas

Firefighters work at the scene of the helicopter crash where former NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant died in Calabasas

Firefighters work at the scene of the helicopter crash where former NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant died in Calabasas

Crash seen investigators examining helicopter wreckage

Crash seen investigators examining helicopter wreckage

The sum is less than the $40 million lawyers said Bryant was entitled to, but more than that received by relatives of other victims – who last year received $2.5 million in compensation for the taking of pictures.

Bryant and Chester refused to join their case and started their own, which resulted in the payment of $31 million.

The sheriff’s department was ordered to pay Bryant $2.5 million for emotional distress already suffered and $7.5 million for future suffering. The fire department must pay him $1 million for his past suffering and $5 million for his future suffering.

Chester received $1.5 million from the sheriff’s office for his past suffering and $7.5 million for the future. He received $1 million for past suffering caused by firefighters and $5 million for the future.

Los Angeles Civil Trial heard how some of those first responders showed the photographs to members of the public – including a bartender – while a deputy texted them to a friend while the couple played games video.

In its defense, Los Angeles County said the photos never became public and officials were diligent in removing them from the devices.

“To claim confidentiality and then make all of these details public – that defies logic,” county attorney Mira Hashmall said in her closing statement.

“It’s a case of photographs but there are no photographs.”

But the two-week trial learned how Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also perished in the accident, live in fear that these photographs will one day appear on the internet.

The couple both sued for emotional damage in the photos, in costumes that were combined.

Chester’s lawyer said on Tuesday the jury should award each of them $1 million for each year of their expected life remaining – a figure that would rise to $40 million for Bryant, 40, and to $30 million for Chester, 48.

Vanessa Bryant is pictured in court on Wednesday, as the jury retired to consider their verdict

Vanessa Bryant is pictured in court on Wednesday, as the jury retired to consider their verdict

Vanessa, dressed in white on Wednesday, told a jury at the two-week trial in Los Angeles that she feared footage from the crash scene would become public

Vanessa, dressed in white on Wednesday, told a jury at the two-week trial in Los Angeles that she feared footage from the crash scene would become public

Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter died in the crash, are both suing for emotional damage in photos, in costumes that were combined

Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter died in the crash, are both suing for emotional damage in photos, in costumes that were combined

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 right out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 right out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

Attorney Jerry Jackson called the figure “just and reasonable compensation.” You can’t award too much money for what they went through.

Bryant’s attorney, Craig Lavoie, said he was seeking “justice and accountability” for the basketball great – a Los Angeles city hero – and his widow.

“We are here because of intentional conduct – the county violated the constitutional rights of Ms. Bryant and Mr. Chester,” Lavoie said, asking the jury to hold the county accountable for the “constitutional violations of its employees.”

An investigation into the crash revealed that the pilot likely became disoriented after flying the Sikorsky S-76 in fog.

Bryant is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, a figure who became the face of his sport during two stellar decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 right out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

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