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Vanessa Bryant accepts multi-million dollar settlement with Los Angeles County over pictures taken at fatal helicopter crash site

Vanessa Bryant is wearing an all-white outfit.

Vanessa Bryant, center, Kobe Bryant’s widow, leaves a federal courthouse with her daughter Natalia, center left, soccer player Sydney Leroux, center right, in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. The family of the late Kobe Bryant has agreed to a $28.5 million settlement with Los Angeles County to resolve the remaining claims in a lawsuit over deputies and firefighters sharing grisly photos of the NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash, attorneys and court filings said Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Vanessa Bryant has agreed to a nearly $30 million settlement with Los Angeles over pictures taken at the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and daughter.

The widow of basketball great Kobe Bryant had sued Los Angeles County over the photos, which purportedly included the victims’ remains. The helicopter carrying Kobe, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others crashed into the mountains in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020. They were going to a youth basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy.

Vanessa Bryant sued after learning that those pictures had been shared. Sheriff’s Deputy Joey Cruz was seen on security footage showing pictures of the victims’ remains to his friend, bartender Victor Gutierrez. Former Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda shared the pictures at an awards gala.

“I expected them to have more compassion, respect,” Bryant testified at trial. “My husband and daughter deserved dignity.”

Jurors had awarded $15 million to Bryant in August and $15 million to Christopher Chester, whose wife Sarah Chester and daughter Payton Chester were also killed in the crash.

Bryant has now accepted a settlement of $28.85 million from the county. That amount includes the $15 million jury award. Bryant has previously said that she plans to donate proceeds from the verdict to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a charity she created in honor of Kobe and Gianna.

According to court filings, Bryant and the county “have entered into a settlement agreement resolving the claims asserted by Vanessa Bryant in this matter,” and similar claims brought by the Bryants’ children, including Natalia Bryant, 20, and two minor children, identified only by their initials “B.B.” and “C.B.”

“[T]he settlement agreement as to all parties is conditional upon court approval of the settlement with respect to the minor children,” says the joint notice of settlement, filed Tuesday.

“We believe the settlement approved by the Board in the Bryant case is fair and reasonable,” attorney Mira Hashmall, partner at the Miller Barondess law firm and lead trial counsel for LA County in the Bryant-Chester case, said in a statement. “The $28,850,000 settlement includes the verdict awarded by the federal jury in August 2022 and further 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.”

Hashmall said the settlement ended “all County-related litigation related to the tragic January 2020 helicopter crash.”

“We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss,” she added.

Read the notice of settlement here.

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