Vanessa Bryant is being asked to undergo ‘a physician-ran test on her mental state’ to assess and ‘evaluate’ the extent of her alleged emotional distress regarding the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash images.
The 39-year-old widow of the late NBA legend had sued LA county for negligence and invasion of privacy, and accused the county sheriff and fire department of improperly sharing photos from the crash that killed Bryant and daughter Gianna on January 26.
Legal documents obtained by USA Today said that Vanessa previously ‘refused to submit to independent medical examinations,’ despite putting her mental condition at the core of the lawsuit.
L.A. County attorneys have requested Vanessa undergo a psych evaluation to prove her alleged distress, a request the star may be forced to oblige ‘via a judge’s ruling if need be.’
Request: Vanessa Bryant is being asked to undergo ‘a physician-ran test on her mental state’ to assess and ‘evaluate’ the extent of her alleged emotional distress regarding the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash images; Vanessa seen in May 2021
Crash site: A photo of the helicopter crash site that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others on January 26 was obtained by the National Transportation Safety Board
The basis of LA County’s filing stems from trying to discern if Bryant’s alleged emotional distress — that prompted her to sue the county in September 2020 — stemmed from the sharing of the gruesome images or the tragic crash itself.
The county is seeking the court ordered evaluation in an effort to defend itself from her lawsuit, where she currently seeks ‘tens of millions of dollars’ in damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The filing reads in excerpt: ‘Despite putting their mental condition front and center in this case, Plaintiffs refuse to submit to independent medical examinations (IMEs).’
It was added: ‘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.
Getting to the bottom of it: The basis of LA County’s filing stems from trying to discern if Bryant’s alleged emotional distress — that prompted her to sue the county — stemmed from the sharing of the gruesome images or the tragic crash itself; pictured February 24
Legal action: Vanessa has been seeking ‘tens of millions of dollars’ in damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress in her September 2020 lawsuit after accusing deputies of taking and leaking photos of the crash in the hills of Calabasas, and of ‘showing off’ pictures of her husband and daughter’s bodies
‘Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims.’
Her legal team ripped the possible mandate and called it a ‘bullying’ tactic, saying that the need for a mental exam showed a lack of ‘accountability’ for the gruesome images which circulated amongst the department.
Fighting the request her team also said that forcing involuntary psychiatric exams on a group of surviving family members that includes ‘four teenagers, a 10-year-old child, and a 5-year-old kindergartener,’ was immoral.
‘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,’ her attorney said.
Surviving members: Vanessa is seen with she and Kobe’s remaining daughters Gianna, 18, Bianka, four, and Capri, two
Airing it out: Vanessa named the four LA County sheriff’s deputies accused of sharing the images in March and the trial regarding her image lawsuit is slated for February; Gianna, 13, and Kobe, passed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas
A judge is set to rule over the matter in coming weeks and the trial regarding the images is slated for February.
Vanessa had accused deputies of taking and leaking photos of the crash in the hills of Calabasas, and of ‘showing off’ pictures of her husband and daughter’s bodies.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva told news outlets that eight deputies were found to have taken or shared the graphic crime scene photos which he then ordered them to delete.
California Governor Gavin Newsom had passed legislation making it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.
In March 2020 Vanessa revealed the names of four of the eight deputies in question after a federal judge ruled in March that their names and ranks no longer needed to be kept private.
She named the officers: Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales, as she shared an Instagram post of the lawsuit with their names squared in red.