The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday to pay an additional $4.95 million to the family of Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton for first responders’ graphic cellphone photos of the scene. accident. The accident also claimed the life of the legend of the Lakers, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna.
The settlement, approved during a closed board session, is in addition to $15 million in damages awarded to the Chester family by a federal court jury on Aug. 24. Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, also received $15 million in damages.
According to Mira Hashmall, an outside attorney representing the county in the litigation, the additional money approved by the board Tuesday “settles all outstanding issues related to pending state claims, future Chester children’s claims, attorneys’ fees and costs.” We sincerely hope that this settlement will help Mr. Chester and his children get on with their lives.”
Hashmall said the county believes the $19.5 million blanket settlement with the Chester family is “fair and reasonable for everyone involved.”
The settlement approved Tuesday applies only to the Chester family. It was unclear if Vanessa Bryant still intends to pursue her state claims of invasion of privacy stemming from photos taken at the scene of the crash.
Sarah Chester’s husband, Chris, and the Chester family sued the county over personal photos taken by county sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from the scene of the January 2020 crash in Chatsworth that killed nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13 years old.
Today marked the 10th day of Vanessa Bryant’s trial against Los Angeles County, and this morning the sheriff who took photos of Kobe Bryant’s accident scene testified.
Attorneys for Chester and Vanessa Bryant argued during the trial that the plaintiffs suffered emotional pain and suffering after learning that personal photos of human remains at the scene of the accident were taken and shown for no reason to a bartender, attendees of a delivery of prizes, and sent by a sheriff’s deputy to a colleague while they were playing a video game.
The county did not dispute that some photos were shared with a small number of officers and firefighters. But defense attorneys maintained that all footage taken by first responders was destroyed by order of the sheriff and fire marshal, and no longer exists in any form. The photos never entered the public domain or appeared on social media, the county insisted.
Along with loved ones of Chester and Bryant, the accident killed Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Cristina Mauser, 38; and the pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
Two other families settled separately with the county over the photos for $1.25 million each. All the families of the victims reached an agreement with the helicopter company about the accident, but those terms remain confidential.