Vanessa Bryant has reached a $28.85 million settlement with Los Angeles County, the Sheriff’s Department, and Fire Department for the photos that were shared of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed her late husband, Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, ESPN reported on March 1, 2023. The settlement reportedly includes the $16 million in damages Vanessa was awarded in her lawsuit against LA County following the verdict that was announced on Aug. 24, 2022, per the Los Angeles Times. Her coplaintiff, Christopher Chester, was also awarded $15 million.
«This settlement marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,» Vanessa’s attorney Luis Li said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. «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.»
Vanessa and Chester sued the county for emotional distress and mental anguish in September 2020, alleging that emergency personnel shared graphic images from the helicopter crash that also killed Chester’s late wife, Sarah, and their 13-year-old daughter, Payton. In August 2022, the jury found that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department officials had shared the photos of Vanessa and Chester’s deceased loved ones directly following the crash in situations including a cocktail hour and at a bar.
A week before the trial concluded, Vanessa took the stand for the first time in the case and opened up about when she initially learned of the images being shared with unauthorized people. » . . . I broke down and cried and I just wanted to run down the block and scream,» she testified, according to People. «I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.»
Vanessa celebrated the court victory on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself with Kobe and Gigi. «All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi! #Betonyourself #MambaDay 8•24•22,» she wrote. The day of the verdict had previously been named Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles to mark the former Los Angeles Laker’s two jersey numbers during his NBA career: eight and 24.
On Aug. 25, 2022, Vanessa’s attorney confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that she planned to donate proceeds from the $16 million judgment to the nonprofit Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, named in her husband and daughter’s memory. The organization was founded in 2016 as the Mamba Sports Foundation but was renamed in 2020 in honor of Kobe and Gigi.