Vanessa Bryant was accidentally awarded an extra $1 million in the verdict against LA County first responders who took photos at the Kobe Bryant crash site

·3 min read
Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant, center, the widow of Kobe Bryant, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. Kobe Bryant's widow is taking her lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff's and fire departments to a federal jury, seeking compensation for photos deputies shared of the remains of the NBA star, his daughter and seven others killed in a helicopter crash in 2020.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Due to a jury error, Vanessa Bryant verdict against LA County was slightly inflated.

  • Jurors meant to dole out $15 million to Vanessa Bryant instead of $16 million.

  • They intended to give Bryant and co-plaintiff Chris Chester the same amount in damages.

Jurors who settled the fate of Vanessa Bryant's two-week long trial against Los Angeles County doled out too much money to Bryant, according to USA Today.

Bryant's $16 million verdict is set to be notched down to $15 million after a clerical error, Judge John Walter said on Friday, according to the report. Chris Chester, whose wife Sarah and daughter Payton were also aboard the helicopter, was awarded $15 million after he and Bryant took on the county in a joint trial – and jurors intended to evenly distribute the damages.

"It was the nine jurors' intent that both plaintiffs Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester to be awarded equally," Walter said, according to the report. Bryant has agreed to the change and her attorney Luis Li said the correction was "just."

Vanessa Bryant and Chester had sued the county after deputies with the LA County Sheriff's Department and fire captains with the LA County Fire Department took and shared graphic photos of the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed nine people, including NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

After only 4.5 hours of deliberations, the jury ultimately found that both LASD and LACFD violated Bryant and Chester's constitutional rights and had inadequate training policies that led to the spread of the improper photos.

Bryant and Chester testified that the behavior of the first responders violated their constitutional right to the privacy of images of their loved ones, and sought damages due to the grief and anxiety they say they suffered because of the conduct of first responders on the day of the crash.

As the deputies and captains implicated in the spread of the photos took the stand one by one during the 11-day trial they offered myriad reasons for why they took, and then shared, the graphic photos: curiosity got the better of them; they believed it was part of their job; or, as two back-to-back deputies testified, it was a way to "alleviate stress."

Attorneys for the County have maintained that the photos are "permanently deleted," and that first responders needed to take "site photography" to relay to the command post the nature of the scene, considering the crash, weather conditions, and ensuing media frenzy on the day.

After the verdict, a spokesperson for Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Insider that "It is unfortunate the County attorneys did not better defend our efforts more vigorously."

The County also filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the evidence presented in the courtroom was not adequate, according to court documents filed Monday.

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