Los Angeles County is demanding for Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, to take an independent psychiatric evaluation to prove that the leaked photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and their daughter, along with seven others, caused emotional distress, NBC News reports.
Bryant filed a lawsuit against the county and its sheriff’s office last year claiming that emergency responders “showed off” images of the January 2020 crash that killed Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages, alleging emotional distress, civil rights violations, negligence, and violation of privacy, ABC 7 reports.
L.A. County filed a motion in court Friday arguing that a medical examination was necessary to determine whether the emotional distress suffered by Bryant and others involved in the lawsuit were caused by the photos of their deceased relatives that first responders shared or whether the emotional distress from the crash itself.
“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 said in the motion.
Attorneys for Bryant and the other plaintiffs are arguing against the involuntary examinations. They said a “complaint that merely claims damages for emotional distress does not place a party’s mental condition ‘in controversy” and that the county should find a way to evaluate emotional distress by “less intrusive means.”
“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,” Bryant’s attorneys said.
They added, [the plaintiffs’ distress] “are the feelings that any reasonable person would experience if the public officials entrusted to protect the dignity of their deceased family members snapped graphic photos of their loved ones’ remains, used the photos for cocktail-hour entertainment, and failed to contain and secure the photos.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Nov. 5, according to Friday’s court filing, ABC 7 News reports. The trial is set to begin in February.
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