LA officials want Kobe Bryant’s widow to take a psychiatric exam as part of legal battle, report says

Vanessa Bryant’s legal team describes motion as ‘scorched earth discovery tactics’

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 19 October 2021 05:30
Kobe Bryant: 911 calls from helicopter crash released
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Vanessa Bryant should undergo a psychiatric evaluation of the emotional distress she faced after the death of her husband Kobe Bryant, said Los Angeles county officials, amid an ongoing lawsuit filed by her.

Ms Bryant is fighting a legal battle against the city’s officials over leaked photos of the tragic 2020 helicopter crash that killed the NBA superstar and their 13-year-old daughter.

The county argued on Friday that Ms Bryant and other plaintiffs should undergo a psychiatric test to determine whether their emotional distress was caused by the leaked photos or the actual crash itself, reported CNN.

This should be done before the trial begins in February 2022, they said. The next hearing for the case is scheduled for 5 November.

“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 its motion, calling the test “crucial” for the defence.

Ms Bryant had filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles county in September, seeking damages for negligence and invasion of privacy after the county sheriff’s deputies allegedly shared pictures from the crash site where her husband and their daughter Gianna Bryant died.

All nine people onboard the helicopter died on 26 January 2020 in the crash in California’s Calabasas city.

Her suit alleged that one sheriff snapped about 100 pictures on his phone from the crash site and showed them to a bartender in LA.

“The Sheriff’s and Fire Departments’ outrageous actions have caused Mrs Bryant severe emotional distress and compounded the trauma of losing Kobe and Gianna,” read her suit.

The county, however, argued in its Friday motion that the plaintiffs never saw the photos, which the city officials claimed were never publicly disseminated.

The plaintiffs are seeking “tens of millions of dollars to compensate them for their alleged mental and emotional injuries,” the county said, adding that a psychiatric examination will help to know the “existence, extent and cause” of the “alleged harm”.

Attorneys for Ms Bryant and other plaintiffs hit out against the motion, describing it as “bullying” by resorting to “scorched earth discovery tactics”.

They said the request will also force not just adult plaintiffs but also the juvenile plaintiffs to undergo an “eight-hour involuntary psychiatric examination”.

The juvenile plaintiffs were identified just by their initials in the court filings and are said to be comprised of children aged five and teenagers as well.

They added the court should consider evaluating emotional stress through “less intrusive means”.

In June, Ms Bryant agreed to settle another lawsuit for wrongful death against the pilot and the company that owned the helicopter Bryant was on.

She had alleged her husband was killed “as a direct result of the negligent conduct” of the pilot of the helicopter Ara Zobayan and that the company Island Express Helicopters were “vicariously liable in all respects”.

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