DENVER - The Kobe Bryant saga may be ending in Colorado.
After 17 months of bitter court fights and lurid headlines, the 20-year-old woman accusing the NBA star of rape might dump her civil lawsuit here and sue him in his home state of California because of Colorado’s strict limits on financial damages.
Lin Wood, one of the attorneys representing the woman, said Colorado law makes it difficult for a plaintiff to win more than $733,000 in damages.
“California law would provide our client with a significantly greater opportunity to be fully compensated for the injuries she suffered,” Wood said.
The accuser’s attorneys expect to decide whether to move the trial by the end of November. An attorney for Bryant, Pamela Mackey, did not return a call seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s attorneys filed a notice Monday in the civil case arguing that outside sources, including the media, may have caused or contributed to the woman’s alleged emotional injuries.
The filing cites numerous media organizations that published information about the case, people who threatened the woman and the Colorado Judicial Department, which mistakenly released the woman’s name and details about her personal life during the criminal case.
Prosecutors dropped the criminal sexual assault charge against Bryant when the woman said she did not want to participate in the trial. The 26-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star has said the sex was consensual.
Three weeks before jury selection began in the criminal case, the woman sued Bryant in federal court in Denver, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering she said she suffered since her encounter with Bryant last year.
Wood said if the attorneys file suit in Orange County, Calif., where Bryant lives, they would probably drop the Colorado case. Wood is unsure how much attorneys believe is fair compensation for their client, but he said it is “well in excess” of what the limits in Colorado.
A change of venue could be a smart decision because it could put Bryant under pressure to settle for a large amount, said Bob Pugsley, a professor at the Southwestern University law school in Los Angeles.
“It would really bring the realities of the case much more closer and, uncomfortably for Kobe, to his home base,” Pugsley said. “I think you’d get 24-7 coverage on this kind of thing.”
Other legal experts differed on whether the case will be moved. Larry Pozner, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said a California judge might not allow the woman’s attorneys to move the case.
“Every event in the case happened in Colorado. It’s going to stay in Colorado,” he said. “You can file the case anywhere, but the judge decides whether it’s proper.”
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