Vanessa Bryant Must Turn Over Therapy Records Showing Her Emotional Distress, Judge Rules

A judge ruled Vanessa Bryant must turn her therapy records over to Los Angeles County showing her emotional distress in her lawsuit claiming she suffered such distress after first responders took and shared graphic photos from the site of the January 26, 2020 helicopter crash that killed basketball player Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, and seven others.

County lawyers requested U.S. District Court Magistrate Jud Charles Eick to review Vanessa Bryant's records, which was granted.

"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 wrote about the 2020 crash near Los Angeles.

According to CNN, Bryant's lawsuit claims that county fire and sheriff's department employees shared photos of the crash in settings unrelated to the investigation, including a bar.

In her deposition, Bryant testified she has suffered constant fear, anxiety, and has trouble sleeping because of the photos, reported the Associated Press. She is suing for invasion of privacy and asking for damages for emotional distress. The case is scheduled to start trial in February.

County lawyers, who are led by outside counsel Skip Miller, said the deaths themselves caused her distress, and pushed for the therapy records to determine Bryant's mental health.

Eick also denied the county's effort to make her undergo a mental health evaluation. According to court documents filed November 1, he turned down the request for evaluation on the grounds it would be "untimely,' reported CNN.

Bryant's lawyers argued that seeking her therapy records was a further invasion of her privacy.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Vanessa Bryant, Therapy Records, Emotional Distress
A judge has ruled that Bryant 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, their teenage daughter and seven others. Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna February 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo, File

"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 said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant didn't immediately comment.

A Times investigation in March revealed that deputies had shared the grim images of the scene. The photos were shared internally and by one deputy who displayed his cellphone in a Norwalk, California, bar and by a fire captain who showed the images on his phone during an award show cocktail hour.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordered all deputies with images of the crash to delete them immediately after learning of a January 29 citizen complaint about the bar incident.

Vanessa Bryant, Therapy Records, Emotional Distress
The photos of the crash were shared internally and in one instance, at a bar. Vanessa Bryant holds her daughter Capri following the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 15 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images