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Vanessa Bryant Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Helicopter Company

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2021

Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Vanessa Bryant has settled her lawsuit against helicopter company Island Express, according to TMZ Sports.

Per that report, "Vanessa sued Island Express back in February 2020, blaming the helicopter company for the fatal crash that killed her husband and daughter. In her suit, Vanessa claimed the weather conditions—an extremely low, blinding fog—were not conducive to flying... and she claimed the pilot, Ara George Zobayan, failed to properly assess and monitor the weather before takeoff and during flight."

Nine people died in the ensuing crash in January 2020: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser and the pilot, Zobayan.

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board largely blamed Zobayan, with the Associated Press reporting the findings determined he "ignored his training, violated flight rules by flying into conditions where he couldn't see and failed to take alternate measures, such as slowing down and landing or switching to auto-pilot, that would have averted the tragedy."

The NTSB also faulted Island Express for "inadequate review and oversight of safety matters," per the AP.

John Barr of ESPN reported in January that surviving members of the Altobelli, Chester and Mauser families also filed wrongful death lawsuits against the helicopter company.

Island Express, meanwhile, sued air traffic controllers Kyle Larsen and Matthew Conley, saying the fatal crash "was caused by a series of erroneous acts and/or omissions" by the pair.

Vanessa Bryant also filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the deputies who shared photos of the crash site for "negligence, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and the violation of her right to privacy under the 14th Amendment," per Barr.

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