A judge has ruled that Kobe Bryant’s widow must turn over her therapy records to Los Angeles County in her lawsuit claiming she suffered emotional distress after first responders took and shared graphic photos from the site of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed the basketball star, his teenage daughter and seven others.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Charles Eick granted a request by county lawyers to review Vanessa Bryant’s records, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. However, the judge restricted the documents to those years from 2017, and not 2010, as the lawyers requested.
“Plaintiff has waived her psychotherapist-patient privilege by placing into controversy the reportedly extraordinary, continuing emotional distress allegedly resulting from Defendants’ photograph-related actions or inactions,”The judge spoke out about the crash that occurred near Los Angeles on Jan 26, 2020.
Vanessa Bryant said in her deposition she suffered from anxiety and fear due to the photos and had difficulty sleeping. She is seeking damages for emotional distress and is suing for invasion. The case is due to go to trial in February.
County lawyers led by outside counsel Skip Miller argue that the deaths themselves caused her distress, and they sought the therapy records to determine Bryant’s mental state.
The judge rejected the county’s previous attempt to make her undergo a mental health assessment.
Her lawyers claimed that her attempt to obtain her therapy records was an additional invasion of privacy.
“The County continues to have nothing but the deepest sympathy for the enormous grief Ms. Bryant suffered as a result of the tragic helicopter accident. We are gratified that the Court has granted our motion for access to her medical records, as it is a standard request in lawsuits where a plaintiff demands millions of dollars for claims of emotional distress,”Miller stated this in a statement that was obtained by The Times.
Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant didn’t immediately comment.
A March Times investigation revealed that the deputies had shared the horrific images. The photos were shared both internally and by one deputy, who displayed the phone in a Norwalk, California bar. A fire captain also showed the images while he was at an award show.
Alex Villanueva, Los Angeles County Sheriff, ordered that all images of the crash were deleted immediately following a Jan. 29 citizen complaint.