Vanessa Bryant Won't Need Psychiatric Exam in Lawsuit Over Kobe Crash Photos: Judge

Vanessa Bryant will not be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of her lawsuit over leaked photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, a judge has ruled.

NBA hall of famer Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among a group of nine people who were killed when the helicopter they were flying in crashed near Calabasas, California, in January 2020.

His widow later filed a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles County, arguing that the deputies who arrived at the crash scene had "used personal cell phones to take and share gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents and coaches."

In her lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant is seeking undisclosed damages, claiming civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress and violation of privacy.

In a motion filed in October, L.A. County officials argued that proposed independent medical examinations would be needed to determine if the emotional distress was caused by the leak of the images of the helicopter crash itself

Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant countered that L.A. County should employ "less intrusive" means to make their determination.

"It does not take an expert—and it certainly does not take an involuntary eight-hour psychiatric examination—for a jury to assess the nature and extent of the emotional distress caused by Defendants' misconduct," said the attorneys, per CNN.

They also argued that plaintiffs' distress "are the feelings that any reasonable person would experience if the public officials entrusted to protect the dignity of their deceased family members snapped graphic photos of their loved ones' remains, used the photos for cocktail-hour entertainment, and failed to contain and secure the photos."

L.A. County attorneys argued that the request for the evaluation had been portrayed by the plaintiffs as a "heartless" move by officials.

"Plaintiffs try to paint the county's motion as a heartless attempt to force them into a hostile, re-traumatizing situation," attorneys for the county wrote. "This could not be farther from the case."

Vanessa Bryant had argued that the potential release of photos from the crash scene caused her severe emotional distress, depression and anxiety.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick on Monday denied the request for the evaluation, KABC reports, marking the latest defeat for the county in the legal battle.

Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant arrives for the world premiere of "F9: The Fast Saga" at the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood on June 18, 2021. A judge has ruled that Bryant will not have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of her lawsuit against Los Angeles County. CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County had previously sought to prevent the depositions of Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Fire Chief Darryl Osby. But Judge Eick last week ruled that the two could be deposed, as the request was neither harrassing nor abusive.

Two other families of victims in the same crash have reached tentative settlements with L.A. County over the images.

The trial is expected to expected to commence in February.

Earlier this year, Vanessa Bryant and the relatives of the other crash victims reached a confidential settlement agreement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, and Island Express Helicopters, the company that owned and operated the helicopter.

Vanessa Bryant's attorneys alleged in a 72-page complaint that her husband "was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan, for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects."

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant
Vanessa Laine Bryant and Kobe Bryant attend the 2019 Baby2Baby Gala Presented By Paul Mitchell at 3LABS on November 09, 2019 in Culver City, California. NBA hall of famer Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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