Vanessa Bryant will not be forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation in crash photos lawsuit

A judge rejected Los Angeles County’s motion that the mother of four undergoes a mental health exam to prove emotional distress

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Vanessa Bryant will not be required to undergo a psychiatric test to prove she suffered emotional distress over leaked photos of her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna’s fatal helicopter crash.

On Monday, a judge rejected Los Angeles County’s motion that the mother of four undergoes a psychiatric exam as part of her lawsuit against the county over the photos, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE

Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When Vanessa filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in the wake of the untimely deaths of her husband and daughter last year, she accused the county’s sheriff’s department of causing emotional distress after photos were shared of the helicopter crash, theGrio previously reported.

Los Angeles County requested that she be subjected to psychiatric testing, Deadline reports. In the Oct. 15 court filing, the county said it wants to determine whether the photos, which were leaked by county fire and sheriff’s department employees or the accident itself caused distress for Bryant and her family.

“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,” the document stated.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

Los Angeles County believes that the helicopter crash, which left nine people dead, caused emotional stress, rather than the graphic images taken at the site. 

The County made a statement regarding the issue: “Despite putting their mental condition front and center in this case, Plaintiffs refuse to submit to independent medical examinations (IMEs),” the county said. “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. Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims.”

Kobe and seven others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were aboard crashed in the hills west of Los Angeles amid foggy weather while on the way to a girls basketball tournament. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the wreck.

Vanessa said she learned about their deaths on social media — hours before she received official confirmation from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The judge’s decision to reject the county’s request that she undergo a mental health exam comes after Vanessa recently scored a legal victory in her lawsuit over the leaked photos.

Kobe Bryant
(Credit: Getty Images)

She requested that the county sheriff and fire chief answer questions under oath about the helicopter crash site photos as part of a civil lawsuit filed by Bryant and family members of the other victims who perished, USA TODAY Sports reports. 

Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick granted Vanessa’s request and ruled that LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and County Fire Chief Daryl Osby will give pre-trial testimony about the photos that first responders took at the crash site. The ruling is a major blow for the county, which sought to block Villanueva and Osby’s testimony, arguing that they are heads of government agencies “are not normally subject to deposition, absent extraordinary circumstances.”

This article contains additional reporting from theGRIO’s Matthew Allen

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