July 15, 2022
Man Who Lost Wife and Daughter in Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Told to Not ‘Ride Coattails’ of Vanessa Bryant
A man whose wife and daughter were among the nine people killed in the helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant is being admonished and told to stop riding the “coattails” of Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester both sued L.A. County for allegedly sharing graphic photos of the January 2020 crash, Law and Crime reports. The cases are proceeding in U.S. District Court in California before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter and Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick.
On Wednesday, L.A. County filed a motion asking a federal judge to separate Bryant and Chester’s lawsuit because they say Chester shouldn’t be allowed to “ride Bryant’s coattails” by consolidating his case with the widow of the late NBA star.
Attorneys for LA County say that while Vanessa can prove that photos of Kobe Bryant were taken and shared within the police department, Chester has no evidence that photos of his family members were disseminated.
“Chester cannot point to any evidence of photos depicting his loved ones,” the motion states. Because of this “significant gap in Chester’s evidence,” the county says it is “unlikely he can prove public dissemination and thereby establish a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
“Given Kobe Bryant’s worldwide recognition, Bryant’s case is distinct,” the motion states. “Chester should not be permitted to ride Bryant’s coattails and benefit from critical evidence that only pertains to Bryant.”
“Chester has shown his propensity to do this in nearly every pretrial filing and again at the July 8 pretrial conference.”
The county argued that of the 40 witnesses deposed in the case, “not one could identify Chester’s loved ones in any of the photos taken by County personnel,” and “not a single document” identifies Chester’s family members in photos.
The motion says if Chester were allowed to consolidate his lawsuit with Bryant’s he would be able to “unfairly reap the benefits of the significant impact Bryant and her celebrity witnesses will have on this case.”
Two other families of victims of the crash also filed separate lawsuits against L.A. County which have settled. In October, the Altobelli and Mauser families were each given $1.25 million settlements by L.A. County for first responders sharing photos from the site of the helicopter crash, as noted by Bleacher Report.