Last year, Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant and other family members of the crash victims sued the Los Angeles County sheriff saying deputies shared unauthorized graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe, his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi, and seven others. The lawsuit states Bryant was “shocked and devastated” by the reports of the pictures being shared and sought monetary damages in the tens of millions of dollars due to negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Friday, as part of its defense, the county filed a court order trying to force Bryant and the other plaintiffs in the case to undergo psychiatric testing, saying they suffered their emotional distress due to the crash itself and not the photos, according to the USA Today, which saw the legal filing. From the filing:
“Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims.”
Attorneys for Bryant and the other families opposed forcing “involuntary” testing on the families — including six minors — who had already suffered a lot. Again, from the filing, via the USA Today:
“Unable to defend the indefensible conduct of its employees who took and shared horrific photographs of Plaintiffs’ deceased loved ones. … the County has resorted to scorched-earth discovery tactics designed to bully Plaintiffs into abandoning their pursuit of accountability.”
Now it falls to the judge in the case to determine whether Bryant and the other families must undergo psychiatric testing.
This lawsuit is still early in the winding legal process, with the sides contesting every step, including whether L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva and County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby should have depositions. Also, Bryant’s attorney is still working on getting the phone records of the now retired fire department captain who took and shared the photos (he faced internal discipline from the department, but was not fired for his actions).
Bryant and the families have settled their lawsuit against the pilot and owners of the helicopter company involved in the tragic crash. However, the lawsuit against the county continues.
The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in February, although it is not uncommon in these cases for the trial date to get pushed back.