The county of Los Angeles has a message for Vanessa Bryant over her claim in the case about the photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant, her daughter Gianna and seven other people. In her lawsuit against the county, Bryant accused county sheriff and fire department employees of improperly sharing photos of Kobe and Gianna from the scene of the crash. In another lawsuit, Vanessa and other plaintiffs reached a confidential settlement agreement in June to resolve the wrongful death claims against several defendants.
"There is no doubt plaintiffs suffered emotional distress following the tragic loss of their loved ones, and the county extends its sincere condolences, but plaintiffs' claims are misdirected," said a county position statement filed recently in federal court, per USA Today. "Plaintiffs' emotional distress was not caused by (the county defendants), who have neither published nor publicly disseminated any accident site photographs. Rather, plaintiffs' harm was caused by the unimaginable loss of their family members, which was the subject of the Island Express litigation."
The county said the photos were never leaked online and weren't sent to anyone outside of the county. County officials are trying to find out how much money Vanessa Bryant and the other plaintiffs agreed to accept in exchange for dropping the lawsuit against the helicopter company in June as the information will help them learn if Bryant and the other plaintiffs are double-dipping by attempting to recover damages from the "same harm" and emotional distress in two separate lawsuits.
Bryant is suing the county for invasion of privacy and negligence, saying she suffered severe emotional distress because of it. "Rather than take accountability for this harm, the County seeks to intrude further into plaintiffs' private affairs by gaining access to a confidential settlement of a wrongful death action that remains pending … and has no relevance to this case," attorneys for Bryant and other plaintiffs said in the court filing." The case that was agreed to be settled remains pending after an insurance company filed a motion to intervene in it. As for Bryant's case against the county, that will go to trial in February.
"The settlement (in the Island Express case) resolved plaintiffs' claims regarding conduct before the crash that killed plaintiffs' loved ones," the attorneys for Bryant and other plaintiffs stated. "This case is about county officials' conduct after the crash — taking and sharing photos of plaintiffs' loved ones' bodies. Whereas the claims in the Island Express action were for damages flowing from the deaths of plaintiffs' loved ones, the claims against the county in this case are for the county's disrespect for the dead."