Vanessa Bryant, families of Kobe crash victims reach settlement with helicopter company
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Vanessa Bryant and the families of the other victims killed in the 2020 Kobe Bryant crash have reached a confidential settlement agreement with the helicopter company involved in the California disaster that killed nine people.
The parties filed “joint notice of settlement and joint request to vacate discovery deadlines” in court Tuesday, according to Los Angeles’ ABC 7.
“Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly report that they have agreed to settle their claims in the above-entitled action,” the documents reportedly state.
The private chopper, operated by Island Express Helicopters, crashed in Calabasas amid a dense fog in weather conditions not being up to authorities’ ”standard for flying.”
The retired LA Laker legend, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers on their way to a youth basketball event perished in the disaster, which also sparked a quarter-acre brush fire.
The estate of pilot Ara George Zobayan was also named in the suit, which sought millions in damages.
The families of victims John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, as well as girl’s basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton, were plaintiffs in the litigation, court documents confirmed, according to the affiliate.
The lawsuit was one of at least 10 legal complaints that stemmed from the crash.
Island Express Helicopters had filed a suit against two air traffic controllers, arguing that their “series of erroneous acts and/or omissions,” was to blame.
Kobe’s widow has also sued the Los Angeles County sheriff, claiming that deputies shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash.
That litigation prompted California to pass legislation making it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos at crime scenes or crashes.
Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda brought a retaliation lawsuit against Los Angeles County, claiming he and his colleagues took photos of the scene as part of their jobs. Imbrenda was fired for refusing to hand over his phone.
The cause of the crash was likely caused by Zobayan’s decision to climb 4,000 feet through thick clouds and then descend rapidly, leaving him with “spatial disorientation,” the NTSB found.
Tuesday’s settlement agreement still needs court approval, according to the local station.
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