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Vanessa Bryant Just Won a $15 Million Jury Award, but Guess How Much of It She’ll Take Home After Taxes? It Could Be Less Than $2 Million

Most of Vanessa Bryant’s $15 million courtroom victory against Los Angeles County is going toward taxes and legal fees.

Because Vanessa’s award came from an emotional distress suit, the $15 million judgment — Vanessa and her co-plaintiff sought out $75 million in damages for the emotional distress — will be taxed as income, a recent Forbes article describes.

Vanessa
Los Angeles, CA, Wednesday, August 24, 2022 – Vanessa Bryant leaves federal court after a jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay Bryant, widow of Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and another man $31 million in damages for the graphic photos sheriffs deputies and firefighters took at the scene of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter, and seven others.(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Who Lost and Why?

The widow of legendary NBA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and mother of Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, Vanessa won her federal civil rights violation lawsuit against Los Angeles County after deputies and firefighters shared private pictures of those involved in the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe and Gigi as well as those of seven other people who were flying to a basketball game.

Kobe’s net worth was $600 million while he was alive; today, Vanessa’s net worth is listed at the same amount.

What Happens to Vanessa Bryant’s Money

However, according to Forbes, it is a hollow victory given that 37 percent will go to federal tax and 13.3 percent to California tax. 

The difference between physical injury lawsuits and emotional injury lawsuits is that the former is tax-exempt while the latter is generally taxable, according to the IRS.

It was originally reported that Vanessa originally won $16 million, but U.S. District Judge John F. Walter lowered the award to $15 million after a jury calculation error was discovered shortly after the verdict, Law and Crime reported. 

Vanessa, alonside fellow survivor Christopher Chester, whose wife, Sarah George Chester, and daughter, Payton Chester, died from crash on Jan. 26, 2020, were both equally awarded 15 million for pain and suffering — a decision the jury and the widow agreed was fair.

“I wanted to say that Mrs. Bryant truly feels that it’s a just result that she was awarded the same amount as Mr. Chester,” Vanessa’s lead lawyer, Luis Li, said. “From her heart she feels that.”

Forbes reports that Vanessa could be paying lawyers about 40 percent of whatever is remaining, theorizing if she paid $6.4 million in legal fees — a calculation based on the originally reported award figure of $16 million — she would have received $9.6 million from the award. But her taxes on the award would still be for the gross amount before lawyers’ fees, meaning she could receive as little as $1.6 million after taxes.

Donating Remaining Money to Charity

Although speculation of taxes and fees might damper Chester and Vanessa’s big win, they are eligible to recover additional money from L.A. County to pay off the attorney fees througout the two and half years of litigation, Law and Crime reported.

How much is yet to be estimated as it will be discussed further in an upcoming legal motions.

Vanessa is slated to donate her award to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit Kobe founded.

As Finurah previously reported, Vanessa has a partnership with Nike: Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” will honor Gigi with all net proceeds from the shoe will benefit the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

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