Judge Denies L.A. County’s Bid To Diss Miss Vanessa Bryant’s Lawsuit
A California federal judge has denied a request from L.A. County to dismiss a filed lawsuit by Vanessa Bryant over photos taken at the helicopter crash site that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter, Gianna.
Seven others were killed in the same crash when a helicopter malfunctioned and crashed in a Calabasas hill.
Bryant’s lawsuit was filed in September 2020 and claims photos were taken at the scene and were shared by county fire and sheriff’s department’s employees in social settings.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages, claiming civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress and violation of privacy.
Lawyers for the L.A. county requested the dismissal of the lawsuit in a court filing in November.
The county’s lawyers argued Bryant’s fear of the photos getting leaked is hypothetical harm. “Plaintiff’s fear is also not reasonable,” said the lawyers. To strengthen their argument they used 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 claimed the photos “cannot be recovered.”
U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter rejected the filing on Wednesday and ruled that “there are genuine issues of material facts for trial.”
Bryant’s lawyers filed an amended complaint in March 2021, Bryant’s lawyers said a deputy “boasted that he had worked at the scene of the accident where Kobe Bryant had died” and showed photos of the crash site to a bartender and patron on January 28, 2020, two days after the crash.
The bartender who saw the photos then shared with other customers that he had seen the photos of the and “described specific characteristics of Mr. Bryant’s remains,” the complaint states.
Skip Miller, an outside attorney for L.A. County expressed his disappointment in Judge Walter’s ruling. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling,” he said in a statement. “The fact remains that the County did not cause Ms. Bryant’s loss and, as was promised on the day of the crash, none of the County’s accident site photos were ever publicly disseminated.”
The trial is set to begin as soon as next month.
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