Bryant and other surviving family plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the county for invasion of privacy and neglect after several county employees allegedly shared graphic and gruesome photos of the crash site in January 2020.
Los Angeles County has argued that the “emotional distress” Vanessa and the others find themselves in was due to the accident itself, not the posting or sharing of photos.
“Despite their mental state being highlighted in this case, the plaintiffs are refusing to undergo independent medical examinations (IMEs),” the county said in a court file, via USA Today. “The county is bringing this motion to compel complainants ‘NDEs, which are necessary to assess the existence, extent and nature of the complainants’ alleged emotional injuries. Complainants cannot claim they are suffering from continued depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to substantiate their claims. “
Bryant hits back at LA County’s ‘scorched earth’ tactics
Bryant filed a lawsuit last year against the county, accusing four deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of sharing photos of Bryant and the eight others who were killed in the helicopter crash.
Bryant named the four MPs on Instagram and described the troubling allegations of what she said those officers did with the photos.
An officer allegedly showed photos of the crash site and “bragged” about it to a bartender two days after the crash. This bartender then reportedly told another guest table what had happened – one of whom then immediately filed a complaint with the sheriff’s department and called the incident “very, very disturbing.” The same officer also allegedly showed the photos to his niece, another bar patron, and even made “a rude remark” about the remains of the victims.
Another MP reportedly sent photos of the crash to a friend with whom he plays video games.
Bryant said the photos were released to at least 10 members of the department within 48 hours, and a deputy took up to 100 photos on his home phone. She also said Sheriff Alex Villanueva reportedly told his deputies they would not be disciplined if they removed the photos, and only spoke to Internal Affairs once the news went public. .
Bryant’s lawyers criticized the county for trying to force her and others – including “four teenagers, a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old” – to undergo involuntary psychiatric exams.
“Unable to defend the indefensible conduct of its employees who took and shared gruesome photographs of the deceased relatives of the applicants. … The county has resorted to scorched earth discovery tactics designed to intimidate plaintiffs into abandoning their quest for accountability, ”plaintiffs’ attorneys said, via USA Today. “After seeking an intrusive discovery of everything from the records of the plaintiffs’ privileged therapists to college report cards, the county is now seeking to compel victims of its employee misconduct… to submit to involuntary psychiatric examinations. “
Los Angeles County is also trying to block depositions from Villanueva and Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
“Adding insult to injury, the county is making this request while simultaneously refusing to make two of its key witnesses … available for routine testimony,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said, via USA Today. “Apparently, according to the county’s estimate, senior officials should be protected from any testimony, but victims should not only bear the emotional burden of a full-day testimony, but also submit to an involuntary psychiatric examination by eight hours simply because they had the audacity to demand accountability for the accused’s disrespect for the dead and the insensitive intrusion into their private grief. “