The crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others was an “horrific accident,” but the county did not cause it and Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit claiming photos taken at the crash scene were leaked should be dismissed, lawyers for Los Angeles County said in a court filing Monday.
“County personnel worked tirelessly to protect the crash site, identify the victims, and notify the families,” according to the court document. “As for this lawsuit, it is without legal merit and should be dismissed.”
Lawyers argued that Bryant’s fear of the crash site photos surfacing is an hypothetical harm. “Plaintiff’s fear is also not reasonable,” said the county, pointing to results from a neutral forensic examination by an independent examiner that “confirmed that there are no photos containing victims’ remains and no evidence of public dissemination. There is therefore nothing for Plaintiff to fear.” They say the photos are “gone” and “cannot be recovered.”
County lawyers say this is the first time the fire and sheriff’s departments “confronted allegations of improper photo sharing and they took appropriate action to address them.”
Bryant alleges the photos shared by county employees violated her constitutional right to control death images of her husband and daughter Gianna. In March 2020, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said all photos in the possession of first responders have been deleted.
Bryant is seeking an undisclosed amount for emotional distress and the anxiety over the photos possibly going public. Her husband, daughter, and seven others died January 26, 2020, when their helicopter crashed into a Calabasas, California hillside.
CNN has requested comment from Bryant’s representatives. Lawyers for the county say they have no comment on this matter.
The next hearing is set for December 27.
A judge ruled earlier this month that Vanessa Bryant must turn over mental health records in the lawsuit.
Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick ruled Bryant and her therapist must produce documents as far back as 2017 to the lawyers for the county by November 29.
The request for therapy records is an invasion of privacy, Bryant’s lawyers said in papers filed earlier this month.