Vanessa Bryant speaks at a celebration of life event for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in February 2020.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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Vanessa Bryant sues L.A. County over Kobe Bryant crash photos

Bryant is in the middle of a legal battle with L.A. County.
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February 11, 2022
Recently, Los Angeles County moved to dismiss Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit over the handling of photos from the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant, her husband and daughter. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter rejected this appeal, according to CNN

At the time of the accident, Bryant asked Sheriff Alex Villanueva to prevent any photos from being taken of the victims, according to the Los Angeles Times

“I said, if you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,” Bryant said

However, officials flouted this request — bragging about their presence at the scene and showing the photos off amongst friends. After learning of these incidents, Sheriff Villanueva said he would not punish the offenders that came forward and deleted the photos.

Bryant’s lawsuit, a response to these events, claims undisclosed damages, emotional distress, civil rights violations, negligence and violation of privacy. While Bryant maintains that these events were invasive and illegal, the county disagrees. 

“It is undisputed that the complained-of photos have never been in the media, on the internet, or otherwise publicly disseminated,” the county’s lawyers wrote. “Instead, [Bryant] testified that this case is about her ‘having to fear those photographs surfacing.’ But a preemptive, speculative lawsuit about what ‘may’ or ‘could’ happen, as [Bryant] testified, fails as a matter of law.”

Since the images were immediately deleted, are unreleased to the public and remain unseen by Bryant, the county argues that there is no standing for a lawsuit. Bryant’s lawyers, citing the fact that the photos spread to at least 28 officials, are pushing for compensatory and punitive damages. 

“This has always been about accountability,” said Bryant’s attorney Luis Li. “We look forward to presenting the facts to a jury.”

Moving forward, county lawyers may make use of Bryant’s psychological records, which they have recently obtained, to argue that her mental state has been generally poor since the accident. It remains unclear if the Bryant family will receive the justice they seek.

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