Altobelli, Mauser Families Sue Helicopter Company After Crash, Allege Negligence

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo, the jerseys of late Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, right, and his daughter Gianna are draped on the seats the two last sat on at Staples Center, prior to the Lakers' NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Los Angeles. A person with knowledge of the details says a public memorial service for Bryant, his daughter and seven others killed in a helicopter crash is planned for Feb. 24 at Staples Center. The Los Angeles arena is where Bryant starred for the Lakers for most of his two-decade career. The date corresponds with the jersey numbers he and 13-year-old daughter Gianna wore, 24 for him and 2 for her. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

The surviving members of the Altobelli family and Mauser family filed wrongful death lawsuits against the helicopter company Island Express after John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli and Christina Mauser died in the same crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in January.

TMZ Sports reported the news, noting the families say Island Express was negligent, which led to the deaths. The lawsuits are seeking damages for the stress the crash caused and for the money those who died could have earned if they survived and were still working.

"The surviving family members claim Island Express negligently and carelessly breached its duty to own, lease, manage, maintain, control, entrust, charter and operate the helicopter in question in a reasonable manner," TMZ wrote.

This comes after Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reported in February that attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express.

"Defendant Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also alleged negligence on the part of pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash and was previously cited in 2015 by the Federal Aviation Administration.

TMZ noted the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its fleet of helicopters during that day because of poor weather conditions.

"It appeared Island Express might very well go bankrupt because her damages are so enormous," TMZ wrote of Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit. "Their insurance policy will only cover so much."

Nine people died in the crash.