LA County Demands Vanessa Bryant Take 8 Hour Psych Exam To Prove ‘Mental Distress’ Over Crash Photos

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The Bryant Family

Los Angeles County has demanded in a court filing that Vanessa Bryant, and other family members involved in a lawsuit over leaked photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and seven others, to take a psychiatric exam before the case goes to trial.

Bryant sued Los Angeles County and it’s sheriff’s office last year after photos of the January 2020 crash were shared by county fire and sheriff’s department employees in settings that did not involve the investigation. 

It was alleged that these county employees were “showing off” photos of the crash in social settings and online.

Families of the crash victims first filed the lawsuit in September 2020, seeking undisclosed damages. Among their claims are violations of their civil rights, negligence, emotional distress and violation of privacy.

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Vanessa Bryant may be required to prove her mental injuries. 

In a motion filed in Federal Court, attorneys for LA County say Bryant and the other plaintiffs should be compelled to undergo an independent psychiatric examination. 

“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 court filing states. The county argues the plaintiffs “Cannot be suffering distress from accident site photos that they have never seen and that were never publicly disseminated.”

According to the lawsuit that Vanessa Bryant filed, she first learned of the leaked photos from a February Los Angeles Times article. 

She then requested information from the department about its investigation and details on what it had done to ensure all the photos of the crash site were secured.

An attorney from the sheriff’s department responded to her request saying that the department had no legal obligation to respond to her question and would not do so.

Attorney’s for Bryant as well as the other plaintiffs have argued against the examinations saying, “A complaint that merely claims damages for emotional distress does not place a party's mental condition 'in controversy.’”

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They also added that the county should find a “less intrusive” way to evaluate the families of the victims.

"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," attorneys for Bryant said.

This is the second lawsuit Bryant has filed pertaining to the death of her husband and 13-year-old daughter.

Bryant added another company, OC Helicopters to her wrongful death lawsuit, after naming Island Express and the pilot, Ara Zobayan, to the earlier complaint filed at the beginning of the year.

Lawyers for Bryant said OC Helicopters owner Richard Webb regularly discussed weather and routes with Island Express pilots before and during flights.

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Among the other failures, OC Helicopters allegedly did not assess weather, obtain proper weather data before and during the flight, or recommend a safe route and flight plan.

The lawsuit also accuses the helicopter companies and pilot of dozens of counts of negligence ranging from providing safe aircraft services, proper training, to causing or authorizing the operation in a reckless manner.

When it comes to the lawsuit being filed against Los Angeles County over it’s negligence regarding unauthorized photos being taken from the crash site, Bryant's team say she was repeatedly reassured that the site was protected and that law enforcement would secure the scene.

The next court hearing over the request for a psychiatric examination is scheduled for November 5, with the trial for the lawsuit set to begin in February 2022.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.