- A federal judge denied an Oct. 15 motion to compel Vanessa Bryant to undergo a psychiatric exam.
- Bryant sued LA County over the sharing of photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
- LA County requested Bryant take the exam to determine if emotional distress was caused by the leaked photos or the crash itself.
A federal judge denied a request to compel Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the late NBA icon Kobe Bryant, to undergo a psychiatric exam as part of her lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
Monday’s ruling is the latest in an ongoing legal fight between Bryant and LA County after she sued the County, the Sheriff’s Department, the fire department, and eight individual officers right after reports emerged claiming that first responders took and shared photos of the gruesome crash site where her husband, Kobe Bryant, her daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, and seven others died in January 2020.
In September of last year, Vanessa Bryant sued the LA Sheriff’s Department, accusing the deputies of “negligence” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of her right to privacy,” the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
After the incident, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva apologized, acknowledged that eight officers took photos, and said the photos have been deleted and the deputies are under investigation.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles County filed a motion asking to compel Bryant to take an independent medical exam (IME) ahead of the trial to determine whether they suffered emotional distress because of the leaked pictures or because of 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.
“Defendants’ position is that, while Plaintiffs have undoubtedly suffered severe distress and trauma from the crash and resulting loss of their loved ones, their distress was not caused by Defendants or any accident site photos that were never publicly disseminated,” according to court documents.
On Monday, US Magistrate Judge Charles Eick rejected the motion, saying the request was “untimely” as her lawsuit heads to trial in February of next year.
In recent court documents obtained by USA Today, the county’s attorney plaintiffs, including Bryant and others, are trying to “paint the County’s motion as a heartless attempt to force them into a hostile, re-traumatizing situation.”
“This could not be farther from the case,” the attorney said, adding that such exams are “a routine part of the discovery process in cases where severe emotional distress is at issue.”
“While the County is deeply sympathetic to Plaintiffs for their loss, their wealth and celebrity do not excuse them from rules of discovery,” the county attorney continued.
Representatives for the county nor Bryant immediately returned Insider’s request for comment.
Last week, Elick ruled that Villanueva would also have to testify under oath – a move that attorneys representing the officers railed against – because of his “unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge” relevant to the case.