Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit last year against the county of Los Angeles, the L.A. County Fire Department, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and multiple deputies in which she claims that graphic and unauthorized photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were taken and shared.
In her lawsuit, Bryant is asking for monetary damages in the tens of millions of dollars for "negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress." On Friday, the county disputed those claims in a court filing and wants Bryant and other family members to undergo a psychiatric exam. The county is arguing that the emotion distress suffered by Bryant and others was a result of the crash and not the subsequent events involving the photos.
"Despite putting their mental condition front and center in this case, Plaintiffs refuse to submit to independent medical examinations (IMEs)," the county said in a court document obtained by USA Today. "The County brings this motion to compel IMEs of the Plaintiffs, which are necessary to evaluate the existence, extent and nature of Plaintiffs' alleged emotional injuries. Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims."
Lawyers for Bryant accused the county of "scorched earth" tactics in recent court documents.
"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," Bryant's lawyers stated. "After seeking intrusive discovery into everything from Plaintiffs' privileged therapist records and middle school report cards, the County now seeks to compel the victims of its employees' misconduct … to undergo involuntary psychiatric examinations."
A judge will make a decision in the near future on whether or not members of the Bryant family have to undergo the examinations. This topic is just one of a number of contentious pre-trial issues that have arisen during the discovery process.
Earlier this year, Bryant and the families of other crash victims settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the charter company and the estate of the operating helicopter pilot responsible for the deadly crash in January of 2020.