A federal judge has ruled that Vanessa Bryant must turn over her therapy records to help prove she suffers emotional distress over the leaking of helicopter crash scene photos from where her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others died last year.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick ruled Monday that the records’ request is “plainly relevant to the claims and defenses” after Bryant sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff’s office over county employees sharing the January 2020 photos. The photos were not shared publicly, and authorities have said the photos have since been deleted.
Bryant has claimed that the photo leak has caused her to suffer severe and continuing emotional distress. She is suing for invasion of privacy while seeking damages for emotional distress.
Eick stated that Bryant “waived her psychotherapist-patient privilege” when she brought her emotional distress related to the photos into the lawsuit. Though he granted the records’ request, Eick narrowed the records’ availability from 2017 to the present, and not 2010, as the defense had requested.
Eick’s ruling, though a loss for Bryant’s legal team, follows the judge earlier this month rejecting the defense’s request that she undergo a psychiatric test as part of her lawsuit. The defense had argued that such a medical examination could help validate whether she and the other victims’ families actually suffered emotional distress inflicted specifically by the leaked photos.
“Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims,” attorneys representing the county, its fire department and several local deputies stated in a court filing last month.
Late last month, two families who lost relatives in the fatal crash settled with Los Angeles County over the leaked photos, with the county agreeing to pay them $2.5 million.