By Brad Brooks
(Reuters) – Los Angeles County will pay the wife of late basketball star Kobe Bryant nearly $29 million to settle a lawsuit over allegations that sheriff officers and firefighters shared gruesome photos of the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” said Luis Li, attorney for Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s wife. “She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect.”
Li confirmed that the settlement was for $28.85 million. That includes the $15 million that a jury in a federal court awarded to Vanessa Bryant in August in the case after finding that firefighters and deputies violated her privacy and caused her emotional distress.
Vanessa Bryant had sued Los Angeles County, alleging invasion of privacy, after accusing members of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire departments of sharing images of the crash in unofficial settings, including to patrons in a bar.
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people died in the crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020.
Kobe Bryant was 41 when he died. The Los Angeles Lakers great and 18-time All-Star won five NBA championships and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Mira Hashmall, an attorney representing the county in the case, told the Los Angeles Times that the settlement was “fair and reasonable.”
She added that it resolves “all outstanding issues related to pending legal claims in state court, future claims by the Bryant children, and other costs, with each party responsible for its respective attorneys’ fees.”
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas. Editing by Gerry Doyle)