Confidential agreement yet to be approved by court
Vanessa Bryant has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit against the pilot and company who owned the helicopter that crashed in 2020 killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others.
Bryant’s widow and other families filed a settlement agreement notice for the confidential deal on Tuesday, KABC first reported. The agreement still needs court approval before it is finalised.
“Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly report that they have agreed to settle their claims in the above-entitled action,” the documents state.
The group filed the negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of the pilot and the owner and operator of the helicopter following the deaths of their loved ones on 26 Januarie 2020.
The 41-year-old NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in the crash, sending shockwaves across the nation, while on their way to Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park.
Ms Bryant alleged that her husband was killed “as a direct result of the negligent conduct” of the pilot of the helicopter Ara Zobayan and that the company Island Express Helicopters were “vicariously liable in all respects”.
During the flight, the helicopter encountered thick fog, causing Zobayan to climb 1,000 feet sharply to avoid a layer of clouds.
Seconds later the helicopter descended while turning left and smashed into the hillside, killing all nine people aboard instantly before bursting into flames which engulfed the wreckage.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed pilot error for the crash in a report of the incident in February, saying he had been aware of the dangerous conditions prior to the flight and became disoriented in the clouds.
The agency’s report blamed the helicopter company for an inadequate review and oversight of safety matters.
Ms Bryant alleged that “Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions”.
Island Express Helicopters has denied responsibility and said the crash was “an act of God” it couldn’t control.
The other people killed in the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, sy vrou, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton.
Reporting by the Associated Press