Vanessa Bryant lawsuit: Judge rules Kobe's widow won't have to face mental exam

Jory Rand Image
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Judge rules Vanessa Bryant won't have to undergo mental exam
A judge ruled Vanessa Bryant won't have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation during her lawsuit against Los Angeles County over photos taken at the Kobe crash site.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A judge has ruled that Vanessa Bryant will not have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of her lawsuit against Los Angeles County.

Bryant is suing the county over photos taken at the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant.

Her suit alleges members of the county sheriffs and fire departments took and shared photos of Kobe Bryant's body after his helicopter crashed in Calabasas, killing the NBA hall of famer, their daughter Gianna, and seven others.

Last week, the judge ruled that the county sheriff and fire chief will have to give depositions in the case.

Now the judge has denied the county's request to have Vanessa Bryant undergo an examination of her mental state.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick said the request for the evaluation was untimely.

The county had sought the examination because Vanessa was arguing that the potential release of the photos are causing her severe emotional distress, anxiety and depression.

County attorneys wrote: "Plaintiffs try to paint the county's motion as a heartless attempt to force them into a hostile, re-traumatizing situation. This could not be farther from the case."

In an emotional deposition last month, attorney Skip Miller asked Bryant to explain how could she suffer emotional distress after hearing a deputy showed the photos to a person at a bar, if she herself was not there at the time.

Earlier in the deposition, Bryant had explained: "Emotional distress means that not only do I have to grieve the loss of my husband and child, but for the rest of my life I'm going to have to fear that these photographs of my husband and child will be leaked."

In the deposition Bryant revealed she largely stays off social media for fear of what will be written in the comments.

She does post to Instagram and on Monday she shared a photo from Disneyland with her three daughters and former Laker Pau Gasol and his family.

Monday's court finding is the latest defeat for the county, which was trying to prevent the depositions of Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Fire Chief Darryl Osby.

Eick ruled last week that the request was neither abusive nor harrassing and the two can be deposed.

The trial is expected for February.

Two other families of victims of the crash have reached tentative settlements with the county over the photos. The county Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on that settlement on Tuesday.