Vanessa Bryant, whose husband Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a tragic helicopter crash in January 2020, is being asked to take a psychiatric exam to prove that she suffered emotional distress after photos of the crash scene were taken by county employees.
Insider reported that Los Angeles County, which is being sued by Bryant, is demanding that Bryant and the family members, including children, of other crash victims take the psychiatric exam. Bryant’s attorneys wrote in a court filing that the county is seeking psychiatric evaluations for family members of other crash victims. Including “four teenagers, a 10-year-old child, and a 5-year-old kindergartener.”
“Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims,” the county wrote in a motion, according to NBC News.
Attorneys for Bryant in their own court filing called the county’s demands an attempt at “scorched-earth discovery tactics designed to bully Plaintiffs into abandoning their pursuit of accountability.”
The county, according to NBC, is arguing that it was the crash itself that caused Bryant emotional distress and not crash photographs.
In return, Bryant’s attorneys argue that “It does not take an expert—and it certainly does not take an involuntary eight-hour psychiatric examination—for a jury to assess the nature and extent of the emotional distress caused by Defendants’ misconduct.”
In March, Insider reported, Bryant “won a lawsuit to get the names of four officers who allegedly took pictures of the crashed helicopter.” She later posted the names of the officers on Instagram.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Bryant also won a wrongful death lawsuit in June against the helicopter company. From The Daily Wire:
The wrongful death lawsuit following the accident that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January 2020, was settled on Tuesday. Vanessa Bryant, who filed the suit along with members of the families of the seven other people killed in the January helicopter crash, agreed to settle the lawsuit against the pilot and the helicopter company.
According to the L.A. Times, “the helicopter company and insurers filed ‘joint notice of settlement and joint request to vacate discovery deadlines’ documents with the court on Tuesday.”
It is also not the first time Los Angeles County has taken an adversarial approach to Bryant, a grieving widow. In May of this year, The Daily Wire reported, the county argued that Bryant had taken a “straightforward” case and turned it into a “fishing expedition” after her attorneys requested an additional six months for discovery in order to execute more depositions and compile more evidence.
“This straightforward case, with undisputed facts, has turned into a fishing expedition that is taking first responders away from their job – and subject [sic] them to public harassment and threats,” the county said in its court filing at the time. “Defendants are eager to have their day in Court and put an end to this.”
“Plaintiff has not been diligent,” the county added. “Instead, Plaintiff has stalled the forensic examination for seven months, sought irrelevant and unnecessary discovery, expanded the scope of discovery beyond what this case requires, engaged in nonsensical meet and confer efforts, and needlessly delated setting depositions, conducting discovery and even filing this Motion.”
Bryant argues in her lawsuit that multiple sheriff’s deputies improperly took photos of the crash scene, alleging one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his personal cell phone for reasons unrelated to the case. In total, Bryant alleges that at least eight deputies took inappropriate photos of the crash with their cell phones. Bryant further alleges that the deputies who took photos were not directly involved in the investigation and therefore had no legitimate purpose for taking or disseminating the photos.
“It is undisputed that only government personnel and one friend saw the photographs in question,” Bryant’s attorneys allege in their lawsuit. “There has been no public dissemination – nothing in the media, nothing on the Internet.”
Further, the lawsuit states that another sheriff’s deputy “boasted” to a local bartender about responding to the scene. This deputy showed photos of the crash that had been sent by another deputy. The photos showed Kobe Bryant’s body as well as that of a young girl, according to the lawsuit. This bartender then told patrons about the crash, prompting them to file a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department, the lawsuit states.