After trying in earnest to have Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County dismissed, a federal judge ended the county’s bid earlier this week.
According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter has denied the county lawyers’ motion for summary judgment. If the judgment had been granted, the case against Los Angeles County would have been dismissed. The judge stated that “there are genuine issues of material facts for trial.”
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant, sued the county in 2020. She alleges that she and her family have suffered severe emotional distress after finding out that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had taken photographs of the tragic accident scene where her husband, daughter Gianna, other passengers, as well as the pilots of the helicopter, crashed and perished. The pictures of the scene and the nine victims who died that day in January 2020 were later shared with other acquaintances of the first response team that arrived after the deadly crash.
Bryant’s lawyers argued that at least 28 sheriff’s deputies and a dozen firefighters viewed the photos taken at the scene.
In November, according to USA Today, Los Angeles County filed a motion for a summary judgment against Kobe’s widow stating that she never saw the photos of her dead husband and daughter. Based on that, she has no standing to sue the county over the photographs that were deleted and that the pics were never shared with the public at large.
In Judge Walter’s decision, he stated that it is not his role “to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.”
In a written statement, Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess law firm who is representing the county, said that “we respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling.”
“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 county did its job and looks forward to showing that at trial.”
The lawsuit could go to trial as early as next month.