LA County set to pay two families £1m each over shared photos of Kobe Bryant crash scene

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Two families that lost members in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant are reportedly set to receive just under £1million each after it was found first responders shared photos of the victims – including the NBA legend.

According to proposed settlement terms posted by Los Angeles County on Wednesday night, representatives had reached agreements with the Altobelli and Mauser families after they had sued the county for invasion of privacy and negligence – report USA Today.

Their lawsuits are similar to two others – one of which is ongoing and heading to trial in February – from relatives of the fallen victims, including one filed by Vanessa Bryant, widow of Kobe. The other was filed by Chris Chester, who was the husband and father of two other crash victims.

LA County set to pay two families £1m each over shared photos of Kobe Bryant crash scene
© Getty Images Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, were among nine who died in the helicopter crash in February 2020

The proposed settlements are subject to final approvement by the LA County Board of Supervisors next week.

“We believe these proposed settlements of $1.25million are reasonable and fair to all concerned,” said Skip Miller, the outside counsel for the county and partner of the Miller Barondess law firm, in a statement.

“We are pleased that the Mauser and Altobelli families, who as private citizens suffered the same grief and loss as others, will be able to move forward after these settlements.

“We also hope that eventually the other families will be able to do the same.”

LA County set to pay two families £1m each over shared photos of Kobe Bryant crash scene
© Getty Images Kobe and his daughter Gigi have been immortalised in Los Angeles as the player was a legend for the Lakers

The Altobelli and Mauser families wanted to recover damages for the emotional distress suffered after they were informed of the improper conduct of employees at the county sheriff and fire department. In the lawsuits, employees had reportedly taken and shared photos of bodies and human remains at the crash scene in January 2020.

In Bryant’s case, the county argued the photos were not shared on the internet or in any public forum outside of isolated incidents at a bar and banquet.

However, the case with Vanessa Bryant has escalated after she won a court order to compel the pretrial deposition testimony of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Fire Chief Daryl Osby on Tuesday.

Her legal team wants to find out more about what they knew about the photos, including destruction of evidence related to it.

Bryant had initially testified earlier this month in her own deposition and insisted she wanted “accountability” for how the improper images of her husband and daughter were shared “as if they were animals on a street.”

The fire department had notified at least two employees they were set to be fired over the sharing of photos.

LA County set to pay two families £1m each over shared photos of Kobe Bryant crash scene
© REUTERS Vanessa Bryant at a memorial for her husband in February 2020

The department told one of them in a letter that the wreckage photographs had ‘no legitimate business purpose’ and essentially only served to initiate visual gossip, according to court records obtained by USA Today Sports. The employee’s role was set to be terminated over the actions but he retired early, citing his mental health.

Bryant and his daughter Gigi were among nine who died in the tragic crash, including college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, daughter Alyssa, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton and the pilot. They were travelling to a youth basketball tournament in foggy conditions that led to the crash near Los Angeles.

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