Bryant deposition called off, prompting speculation that deal is in works
DENVER – Attorneys in the sexual assault lawsuit against Kobe Bryant said Monday a long-awaited deposition by the NBA star was called off, prompting speculation that a settlement is in the works.Bryant was to face a full day of questioning on Friday by L. Lin Wood and John Clune, attorneys for Bryant’s 20-year-old accuser, but Wood said the session was canceled after his team arrived in Orange County, Calif., for the meeting.It was not immediately clear whether it would be rescheduled.The deposition – where attorneys question a party to a lawsuit before trial, without a judge present – would have been the first time Bryant had spoken under oath about the incident.
Wood declined further comment. Clune and Bryant’s lead attorney Pamela Mackey did not immediately return calls.”It sounds like somebody’s talking numbers,” said veteran plaintiff’s attorney Mel Hewitt of Atlanta. “We do that in a lot of cases. We’ll push for the deposition knowing they don’t want to talk to us and hopefully that makes somebody want to drag their checkbook out.”Legal experts said the deposition might have been called off for a simple reason, such as an illness.”In this case, the plaintiff would not want to postpone it unless there was something in it for them, and what is often in it is settlement,” said Denver attorney Larry Pozner, a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers with extensive civil experience.
“One of the reasons high-profile people settle lawsuits is to avoid the brain damage even if they’re going to win the case, and a deposition is the kind of thing you don’t want to go through if the case is going to go away,” Pozner said.U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch previously refused to bar the woman’s lawyers from asking Bryant about his sexual history. He said he would handle any objections to the questions afterward.Denver attorney Dan Recht said that ruling may help put pressure on Bryant to settle.”In this case, because of the publicity value of it all, it does in fact apply pressure to the defendant to consider serious negotiations,” Recht said. “There is definitely some monetary amount at which Kobe Bryant would say ‘I’d rather pay that amount than have all this be public.”‘
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for mental injuries, humiliation and public scorn the woman said she has suffered since her June 2003 encounter with Bryant at the Vail-area resort where she worked.The woman, now married and pregnant, sued Bryant in Denver federal court last summer, three weeks before the criminal case against him in Eagle County collapsed when she decided she could not take part in a trial.Bryant, a married father of one, issued an apology but insisted the sex was consensual.Matsch has said he hoped the trial could begin this summer.
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