On February 24, 2020, it was announced that Vanessa Bryant had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters, the company that operated the helicopter. In her filing, Bryant lawyers claimed, pilot Ara Zobayan, who also passed in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent.
Fast forward seven months later, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against LA County Sheriff’s Department for invasion of privacy. Throughout the trial that began August 10th,, there were many low points for Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, whose wife and 13-year-old daughter were also on the helicopter with Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant. Both individuals had to sit through some grueling details from the crash and the images first responders captured on site.
On August 11th, Vanessa Bryant walked out of the courthouse when Bartender Victor Gutierrez testified a Sheriff’s deputy shared the pictures with him at Baja California Grill. Her attorney asked if she could be excused while Gutierrez detailed a photo of a girl’s body. During her testimony, Vanessa Bryant described when she discovered the images existed. Bryant recalled not wanting to react in front of her daughters, so she immediately ran on the side of the house so they couldn’t hear her. “I wanted to run … down the block and just scream. I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.” Bryant went on to detail how she would rather remember her husband and daughter the way they were.
This evening, Vanessa Bryant and co-plantiff Chris Chester were awarded $31 million. The breakdown – Vanessa Bryant was awarded $2.5 million for pain and suffering and an additional 7.5 million for any future pain and suffering while co-plaintiff Chris Chester was rewarded $9 million from LASD. In addition, the LAFD was ordered to pay both individuals $6 million each for past and future pain and suffering.
This news comes one day after what would’ve been Kobe Bryant’s 44th Birthday. Vanessa Bryant took to social media to celebrate him sharing an image from his 2009 NBA Championship win. “Happy Birthday baby. I love and miss you so much.” Today, Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to celebrate the win with a picture with Kobe and Gigi captioned, ‘All for you.” Bryant went on to say “JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi! #Betonyourself #MambaDay 8•24•22 💜💛💜💛”