Attorney asks jury to award $75 million in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash photos case

An attorney urged a jury in federal court to award $75 million to Vanessa Bryant and her fellow plaintiff, Chris Chester — whose wife and daughter were killed in the same helicopter crash as Kobe Bryant — during closing arguments of their civil trial against Los Angeles County. Chester’s attorney, Jerome Jackson, asked for $2.5 million apiece for Bryant and Chester due to their two years of “emotional distress.”

In addition, Jackson also asked for $1 million for both Bryant and Chester for each year of future distress — 40 years for Bryant and 30 years for Chester.

“When I reach this point of closing arguments, I’m usually anxious about not asking for too much,” Jackson said during closing arguments on Tuesday. “I don’t have that anxiety today, because I will tell you ladies and gentlemen, you can’t award too much money for what they went through. You can’t stack it too high. You can’t spread it too wide. What they went through is inhuman and inhumane.”

Leading up to Tuesday, Bryant hadn’t asked for a specific dollar amount. Chester’s attorney added that half of the money awarded would be due to the responsibility of the sheriff’s department and the other half would be related to the fire department’s involvement.

On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna, along with seven others, were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles. Kobe and Gianna were on their way, along with seven other people, to a youth basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

In 2020, both Bryant and Chester chose to sue Los Angeles County. They accused county sheriff’s and fire department employees of using their personal cell phones to take photos of the gruesome crash site when they weren’t legally required to do so.

Los Angeles County has argued that the crash photos were never posted online and ended up being deleted shortly following the crash. However, Bryant and Chester allege that “live in fear every day” because they believe that the crash site photos can reappear at any moment. 

Bryant’s attorney, Craig Jennings Lavoie, stated that fire captain Tony Imbrenda showed crash site photos at an awards gala in February 2020. In another case, Lavoie alleges that sheriff’s deputy trainee, Joey Cruz, also showed the crash photos at a bar just two days after the crash.

Los Angeles County is expected to give its closing argument to the jury on Wednesday.


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