Vanessa Bryant, Families of Crash Victims Agree to Settle Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Vanessa Bryant agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the companies that owned and operated the helicopter and the estate of the late helicopter pilot.

She accused them of negligence and causing the death of husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna.

Three other families who lost loved ones in the crash that killed nine also joined the lawsuit, and are part of the settlement against Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp., and the estate of Ara Zobayan, the pilot who also died in the crash.

The settlement they reached is confidential, according to a court document filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles, and it still needs to be approved by the court.

For the Bryant Family, An Unimaginable Loss

The National Transportation Safety Board determined earlier this year that Zobayan's decision-making likely led to the crash in January 2020. According to USA Today, Vanessa Bryant said in her suit that Zobayan “failed to abort the flight when he knew of cloudy conditions” and failed to “keep a safe distance between the helicopter and natural obstacles,” among other alleged failures.

Kobe, Gianna and six other passengers were flying to a youth basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy when the helicopter encountered thick fog. The pilot climbed sharply and nearly broke through the clouds when the helicopter banked suddenly and fell into the Calabasas hills below.

The NTSB report said a series of poor decisions caused Zobayan to fly blindly into a wall of clouds. He then is believed to become disoriented to the point he allegedly thought he was climbing when the helicopter was actually plunging.

Island Express Helicopters Inc. was also faulted by the agency for inadequate review and oversight of safety matters.

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