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Vanessa Bryant and families of crash victims settle wrongful death lawsuit against helicopter company

Vanessa and others sued several companies over the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna and seven others.

Vanessa Bryant Getty

Vanessa Bryant and the families who lost loved ones in the 2020 helicopter crash have agreed to settle their lawsuit stemming from the tragic accident, ESPN and other outlets reported on Wednesday (June 23). According to a notice filed in federal court on Tuesday (June 22), the terms of the settlement are confidential and still need to be finalized.

Vanessa and relatives of the crash victims previously sued Island Express Helicopters, Inc., the company that operated the helicopter; its parent company Island Express Holding Corp; another unnamed company; and the estate of the pilot who died in the accident. Vanessa and the other families sued the companies for negligence and wrongful death after their loved ones, including Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, were killed in the wreck.

According to the federal document, Vanessa, her children and the other families involved in the suit all agreed to settle with the companies. Their settlement agreement notice has yet to be approved by the court and the exact terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.

An investigation into the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board previously found that Pilot Ara Zobayan was at fault for flying blindly through a thick wall of fog that day. The board also blamed Island Express Helicopters Inc. for what they said was an inadequate review process and oversight of safety matters.

Island Express Helicopters, however, denied responsibility and instead called the crash “an act of God” that was beyond their control. The company ended up countersuing two Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers who they claim caused the accident with a “series of erroneous acts and/or omissions.” While Vanessa and others have agreed to settle their suit, Island Express Helicopters’ countersuit is ongoing.

Besides Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna; John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton also tragically passed away in the Jan. 26, 2020 crash.

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