On September 20, 2022, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay an additional $4.95 million to Chris Chester, a man who lost his wife, Sarah Chester, and daughter, Payton Chester, in the Kobe Bryant crash for sharing of Kobe Bryant crash scene photos.
Let’s explore the details of the news with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles County, CA.
Mira Hashmall, the attorney representing Los Angeles County, spoke to the media about the additional payouts, stating that the County and its supervisors hope it would help the surviving Chester family members move on with their lives.
The attorney representing the County further stated that the County believes the additional $4.95 million to Chester’s family would help settle potential future claims by the Chester children, attorney fees, and other pending state claims.
On January 26, 2020, a devastating helicopter crash occurred in Calabasas, resulting in the death of nine people, including legendary Laker legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Although the news was big enough to warrant worldwide attention, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s wife, and the Chester family sued the County sheriff’s department and firefighter department after Times reported that the officials shared images of the deceased, shocking the entire world.
Vanessa alleged that the first responders, deputies, and County firefighters took pictures of the crash incident and the burnt bodies and then shared them with their colleagues and random women at the bar to impress them.
The bartender overheard and reported the conversation to the Sheriff’s department about the actions of their deputies.
During the 11-day trial, both sides presented their case about sharing photos of the crash scene.
A witness stated that the officers showed the graphic photos at an awards gala, where they called it a “party trick.”
County defense attorneys argued that for Sheriff’s deputies to take pictures at the accident scene was part of their routine to help determine the magnitude of the incident and the resources needed to clear the crash site.
The County insisted that the images shared were never made public, nor were they viewed by the victim’s families, and on orders of the sheriff and fire chief, they immediately destroyed them.
Attorneys for the Chester family and Vanessa Bryant argued that the extent of the spread of the images remained unclear as the County did not investigate the incident properly.
The victim’s family attorneys argued that the investigation began once the officials removed all the evidence by flashing their phones, issued new phones to their deputies, and removed the hard drive from the laptop of firefighter.
The wife of the LA Lakers legend and the Chester family filed a combined lawsuit against the Los Angeles police and firefighter department for emotional pain and suffering for sharing death images with others.
On August 24, 2022, both plaintiffs received $31 million as the verdict stated that the photographs violated privacy and caused emotional problems.
Jurors decided that the Sheriff’s department and the County fire fighting department did not have sufficient training and policies to prevent their employees from sharing death photos.
Los Angeles County board of supervisors agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the other lawsuits filed by:
The “L.A. County to pay extra $4.95 million over Kobe crash photos” incident was about privacy invasion by sharing graphic photos causing emotional injuries to the victims.
In California, victims can seek justice for invasion of privacy by filing a claim against the negligent party and proving the following elements:
If you suffered emotional harm, embarrassment, or shame from an unnecessary privacy invasion, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may qualify for compensation.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.