Vanessa Bryant does not need to undergo an independent medical evaluation to prove that she experienced “emotional distress” after the January 2020 deaths of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna Bryant.
The model, 39, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department in September 2020. She is suing for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly, a judge ruled on Monday, November 1, that requiring Vanessa to take a psychological assessment as evidence in her case would be “untimely.”
Lawyers for the sheriff’s department previously argued in October that the results of an exam would be “not only relevant, but necessary” in order to fairly “evaluate the existence, extent and nature of [Vanessa’s] alleged emotional injuries.”
The California native’s attorneys, however, told CNN last month that any such evaluation would be “intrusive” as Vanessa continues to mourn, noting, “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 [the department’s] misconduct.”
Vanessa and Kobe were married for nearly 20 years before he died in a helicopter crash in California in January 2020. The former Los Angeles Lakers player was one of nine victims, including his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
In October, Vanessa spoke in a deposition and recalled the day of the accident, claiming that authorities “weren’t prepared” when she arrived at the sheriff’s station in Malibu. “We got there and I kept asking if my husband and my daughter were OK. No one would answer me,” she alleged, adding that she was reassured by Sheriff Alex Villanueva that a “no-fly zone” would be put in place over the crash site.
“I said, ‘If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them.’ … And he said, ‘I will,'” she told the court. “I was afraid of fans or drones or helicopters getting images of my husband and my daughter and our friends.”
Vanessa noted last month that she was suing in hopes of getting some “accountability” from the eight deputies who she claims took pictures of the crash victims with their cell phones.
“I don’t think it’s right that I have to deal with this; that my kids have to deal with this when they get older and they become aware of what happened; that our friends have to deal with this. … Because no one should ever have to endure this type of pain and fear of their family members,” she said.
Along with Gianna, the late Oscar winner shared daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 2, with his wife. Earlier this year, Vanessa dropped off her eldest child at the University of Southern California to begin her freshman year. When the teenager committed to the school in March, her mother said the choice would have made proud Kobe proud.
“Tears of joy,” Vanessa wrote via Instagram at the time. “I’m SO happy for you Nani! I know Daddy is so PROUD OF YOU. I am so PROUD OF YOU!! Your hard work and dedication was so worth it. You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable, and you succeeded. I wish Daddy and [your late sister], Gigi, were physically here to celebrate but I know they’re here in spirit. We love you so much.”