LOS ANGELES – A retired Los Angeles County fire captain who testified during the federal trial of Vanessa Bryant’s civil suit against the county is himself suing the same government entity, saying he was ordered to take pictures of the helicopter crash scene where Kobe Bryant and eight others died in 2020, but not compensated for his legal expenses after being sued.
Plaintiff Brian Jordan’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges violations of the state Labor Code and Government Claims Act. He seeks nearly $60,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, plus additional damages.
“Jordan took photographs of the crash site at the direction of (the department) in the proper discharge of his duties, and as a direct consequence and result, was sued and forced to incur costs and attorneys’ fees,” the suit states.
By contrast, the department paid the attorneys’ fees of every other employee, whether that worker was a party or a witness, the suit states.
“Nevertheless, because he took pictures of the crash site, he was maligned by the (department), which accused him of improperly sharing the photographs with third parties unrelated to the incident, which was false,” the suit states.
A representative for the county did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Thursday.
The 56-year-old Jordan was called to the stand in the trial of the suit federal brought by the Lakers star’s widow and Irvine financial advisor Christopher Chester. Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and Chester’s wife, Sarah, and 13-year-old daughter, Payton, were among the nine people killed in the crash. The suit alleged that the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were violated by the alleged taking and sharing of gruesome photos of the scene by deputies and Fire Department members.
Testifying on Aug. 15, Jordan said he had little memory of the day or of seeing horrific scenes that “are gonna haunt me forever.”
“While certain members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and (county Fire Department), including Jordan, were ordered to take photographs of the accident scene, none of those scenes were publicized on television or on the internet,” the suit states. “Nevertheless, Jordan and a number of other (Fire Department) and Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department (deputies) were sued by the families of the victims, including Christopher Chester for, among other things, invasion of privacy.”
The Fire Department, through a deputy chief, suggested to Jordan that he lie as a witness and say that he did not take pictures, the suit states. The department later offered to pay for Jordan’s legal defense if Jordan, who had already hired an attorney, changed lawyers, according to the suit.
Knowing that the (department) was not acting in Jordan’s best interest, he had no choice but to continue to accrue legal expenses incurred as a direct consequence of the discharge of his duties and at the direction of his employer, the suit states.
In late 2021, Jordan presented proof that allegations made by Bryant’s attorneys were false, but the county chose not to use the information, requiring the plaintiff to need more legal representation, the suit alleges. The suit does not state what allegations the Bryant attorneys made.
“Jordan incurred reasonable cost and attorneys’ fees in defending himself in actions and proceedings brought against him because of conduct that arose out of the acts performed in the course and scope of his employment,” the suit states. “(The county) refuse(s) to reimburse Jordan for those costs and attorneys fees.”
In October 2020, Jordan’s doctor told him he could not return to work due to a disability and when he researched his retirement option, he found out that the department had not picked up his claim, the suit states.
The federal jury in late August ordered the county to pay Vanessa Bryant and Chester collectively about $30 million.
Photo source: Depositphotos