LA County seeks to dismiss Vanessa Bryant lawsuit
Los Angeles County filed a motion for summary judgment on Monday, asking that a judge dismiss the lawsuit Vanessa Bryant, widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, filed last year over photos that sheriff’s deputies took of the crash and of her husband and daughter’s remains.
In the motion, attorneys for Los Angeles County wrote it was “undisputed that the complained-of photos have never been in the media, on the Internet, or otherwise publicly disseminated.”
“As for the ‘resulting injury,’ the alleged harm is Plaintiff’s fear that photos might one day be publicly disseminated, possibly by County employees. Harm cannot be based on speculation and inferences,” the attorneys added. “Plaintiff’s injury will arise if a photo is one day published, if it contains her family members, and if it is traced back to one of the Deputy Defendants. Until then, non-existent speculative injury is not a basis for a negligence claim.”
Bryant alleged in her lawsuit that at least eight sheriff’s deputies took photos of the helicopter crash in which her husband, daughter and other passengers died. Her complaint stated that there was “no investigative purpose” to taking the photos and they were instead taken “for their own personal purposes.”
In March, Bryant publicly identified Deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales as being among those who took photos of the crash site after a judge ruled that their names could be made public.
Bryant accused Cruz of showing off photos of her family members’ remains to other members of the force and to members of the public, including a bartender who reportedly bragged about what they saw and described the images.
Los Angeles County wrote “while inappropriate and the basis for discipline, what Deputy Cruz did is not legally actionable.”
“Because the claim against Deputy Cruz fails, the claim against the County and LASD fails too,” the motion read.
Bryant is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants in order to “make an example of them to the community.”
Former Los Angeles prosecutor Alfonso Estrada, who is not involved in Bryant’s case, told USA Today that if a judge does grant summary judgement, then Bryant “would essentially be out of luck, absent an appeal to the Ninth Circuit.”
“On the flip side, if she survives summary judgment, then the price tag goes way up for the county as far as any potential resolution or settlement,” Estrada added.
The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Bryant for comment.