Los Angeles County has agreed to settle with two of the families involved in the fatal Kobe Bryant helicopter crash regarding their lawsuits over the unauthorized release of photos from the crash site. The Altobelli and Mauser families will receive $2.5 million for their cases ($1.25 million to each party), which were filed this past December over inappropriate use of the photos by law enforcement and firefighters.
The county has reportedly spent $1.3 million on these two suits alone, according to the Los Angeles Times, and its counsel concluded that “fair and reasonable settlements at this time will avoid further litigation costs.”
Louis “Skip” Miller, founder and partner of Miller Barondess, LLP, represented the county and issued a statement about deal last week. “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,” he said. “We also hope that eventually the other families will be able to do the same.”
This resolution is in contrast to the county’s ongoing legal battle with Vanessa Bryant, whose own suit alleged that the photos taken were not only unauthorized and also shared. She is seeking undisclosed damages based on what she deemed emotional distress, violation of privacy, civil rights violations, and negligence at the hands of Los Angeles County personnel.
However, the county argued that photos of the site were never shared how she insisted. It then asked that Ms. Bryant undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine if the trauma of her husband’s death led her to believe something that it contends never happened.
“The fact remains that no crash site photos taken by first responders have ever been publicly disseminated, as Ms. Bryant confirmed in her deposition,” Miller said on behalf of the county. “We totally sympathize with the enormous loss she has suffered. But as a legal matter, we don’t believe she could be harmed by something that didn’t occur.”
But Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick denied Los Angeles County’s request earlier this week and considered the ask “untimely.” The case between Ms. Bryant and the county is set to begin February 2022.