LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - A Los Angeles judge has ruled in favor of Vanessa Bryant's motion to compel the depositions of both Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
Bryant filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in 2020 after sheriff's deputies and other persons on scene took photos of the fatal helicopter crash that killed her husband, daughter and seven other people. Bryant's husband, Kobe Bryant, is a Los Angeles legend, thanks to his tenure with the Lakers.
Her lawsuit alleges that her family suffered undue emotional distress after learning that the photos were being shared with the public, even after confirmation from Sheriff Villanueva that no such thing would occur.
The LA judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick, ruled that Bryant's purpose in seeking the depositions of the two is "neither abusive nor harassing." His order also states that Villanueva and Osby have "unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge" that is vital to the issues in the case, especially information that may be unavailable from other sources.
He also stated that their depositions may be limited to four hours each, in an effort to minimize the effect the depositions may have on their occupations.
A motion to compel is something that asks the court to enforce a request for information relevant to a case, in the instance that one of the two parties does not cooperate with an information request.
In this instance, the legal team for the defendants, Villanueva and Osby, does not view their deposition as necessary. This prompted Bryant's legal team to file a motion to compel, since they view their depositions as a crucial part of their argument.
Bryant's attorney could not be reached for immediate comment on the situation and announcement. However, Skip Miller, an attorney and representative for the County's legal team did release a statement, in which he said:
"While we disagree with the court's decision, we will make both the sheriff and fire chief available for deposition... Their testimony will not change the fact that there is no evidence any photos taken by county first responders have ever been publicly disseminated."
Bryant's own deposition came on October 12, where she recalled all of the horrific events surrounding that day.
Less than two weeks ago, Los Angeles County's defense team has asked that Bryant participate in a psychiatric exam to evaluate her trauma. Bryant's legal team wrote a response to this request shortly after, "Rather than take accountability for conduct the sheriff himself has called 'wildly inappropriate' and 'disgusting,' the county has chosen to pull out all the stops to make the case as painful as possible... The county's tactics are simply a cruel attempt to extract a price for victims to obtain accountability."
In response to the tragic accident that took her husband and daughter's lives, Bryant, along with the other victim's families, had filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company involved in the crash. That lawsuit was settled in January 2021. Bryant was also involved in a legal dispute with her own mother, one that was settled in August 2o21.
More to follow.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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