UNITED STATES. Los Angeles: A federal jury found the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Departments responsible for violating the constitutional rights of Vanessa Bryant and co-plaintiff Christopher Chester after more than three hours of deliberation.
Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester lost a spouse and daughter in the helicopter crash in January 2020. The jury also awarded $31 million in damages.
Vanessa Bryant sued LA police for photographing Kobe’s dead body
Vanessa Bryant received $16 million, while Chris Chester received $15 million in damages.
Bryant immediately embraced her attorneys once the verdict was read. Bryant continued to cry as she hugged her daughter Natalia in the front row. She left the courtroom silently after leaving.
County attorney Mira Hashmall, who is responsible for leading the counsel for L.A. County, said, “While we disagree with the jury’s findings as to the County’s liability, we believe the monetary award shows that jurors didn’t believe the evidence supported the Plaintiffs’ request of $75 million for emotional distress.”
She further added, “We will be discussing the next steps with our client. Meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss.”
The federal jury came to the conclusion that the sheriff’s and fire department’s lack of sufficient protocols and training was what caused the breaches of the right.
The county fire department was determined to be immune from liability for any long-standing, widespread practice or custom of taking illegal images, which was the sole plaintiff’s claim that the jury did not find to be true.
The sheriff’s office was held accountable for the same problem.
Photos obtained by L.A. County deputies and firefighters showed not only the helicopter’s wreckage but also the damaged remains of those who died, including NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, Chester’s wife Sarah, his daughter Payton, and five other people, were at the center of the trial.
Vanessa Bryant and Chester claimed that the images of their loved ones compromised their privacy and caused them mental pain. Despite L.A. County’s claim that each image had been deleted, each person testified to living with constant terror that the pictures might emerge.
The jury heard 11 days’ worth of graphic testimony. During the trial, witnesses included a deputy who claimed to have shown graphic images from the scene while in a bar. Another deputy who claimed to have shared pictures while playing a video game, a deputy who sent dozens of pictures to an unknown recipient.
Another fire official allegedly showed the pictures to other staff members during a cocktail hour for an awards ceremony.
Los Angeles County’s attorneys sought to distinguish the legal issues the jury must consider from Vanessa Bryant’s emotional testimony during Wednesday’s final arguments.
Hashmall claimed that Bryant’s rights were not violated by first responders who took pictures of the incident since the county’s decision to delete the images ensured that they were never made public.
She encouraged the jury to consider the legislation, which only permits a finding against the county if it can be demonstrated that county regulations were inadequate to stop the distribution of the images.
Bryant’s attorneys said that the images might still exist because one of the cops airdropped them to an unnamed firefighter.
They argued the county’s insufficient investigation of the occurrence gave rise to the possibility of seeing images of human remains.
Vanessa Bryant and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka both broke down in tears during the rebuttal. Li, Bryant’s lawyer, stated that the jury’s verdict is “Important to families throughout the United States who might suffer a tragedy someday.”
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