Los Angeles County is demanding a judge force Vanessa Bryant and others to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before a lawsuit they filed against county officials goes to trial.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in California in January 2020. Reports later emerged that photos of the crash scene were being shared online. Those photos were allegedly taken by first respondents at the scene.
The lawsuit is over those alleged leaked images of the crash that were reportedly shared by emergency responders.
Families of the crash victims filed the lawsuit in September 2020 and are requesting undisclosed damages. Among their claims are violations of their civil rights and privacy and emotional distress.
In a motion filed in federal court on Friday, attorneys for LA County say Vanessa Bryant and other plaintiffs should be compelled to undergo an independent psychiatric examination. The core of their argument surrounds the families’ claims that they are suffering from “severe emotional distress,” court documents reviewed by NPR say.
Attorneys for the county said compelling the plaintiffs to undergo a doctor’s evaluation is necessary, “to evaluate the existence, extent and nature of Plaintiffs’ alleged emotional injuries.”
“A central tenet of the County’s defense is that Plaintiffs’ severe emotional and mental injuries were not caused by any conduct of Defendants, but rather by the tragic helicopter crash and resulting deaths of their loved ones,” the county’s attorney went on to say. “Plaintiffs cannot be suffering distress from accident site photos that they have never seen and that were never publicly disseminated.”
Attorneys for the families are arguing against the involuntary tests and want to find a way that evaluates their emotional distress by methods that are “less intrusive.”
The next court hearing over this request is scheduled for Nov. 5. The trial over the lawsuit is expected to begin in February.