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Verdicts & Settlements

Kobe Bryant’s Widow Agrees to Settlement with Helicopter Company and Pilot’s Estate

— June 24, 2021

However, the lawsuit is still subject to the court’s approval; its terms will remain confidential.

Kobe Bryant’s widow has agreed to settle a wrongful death settlement with the owners of the helicopter that crashed in January 2020, killing the basketball legend, his daughter, and seven other people.

According to CNN, attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a joint notice of settlement in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly report that they have agreed to settle their claims,” the filing states.

However, the terms of the settlement will remain confidential, and are subject to court approval. If approved, the settlement would end a lawsuit which has dragged on for more than a year.

ABC News recounts how Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, had been flying from Orange County to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Ventura County, California.

Shortly after take-off, the helicopter encountered thick fog in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.

Operating under pressure, pilot Ara Zobayan climbed sharply to avoid an impeding mountain range. According to ABC news, Zobayan had almost broken through the cloud cover when he banked sharply and begin to descend.

A helicopter taking off. Image via Pxfuel, listed as public domain.

The helicopter ended up plunging into the Calabasas Hills below, killing Bryant, Gianna, Zobayan, and the other passengers aboard. ABC News identifies the others as: baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife, Keri; their daughter, Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who had helped Kobe Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton.

Alyssa and Payton, notes ABC, were both Gianna’s basketball teammates.

While Zobayan’s estate has firmly denied any wrongdoing, a National Transportation Safety Board report, released in February, blames pilot error for the crash. In its analysis, the NTSB alleged that a “series of poor decisions” led Zobayan to fly into a wall of cloud so thick that he thought he was ascending when he was actually plunging towards earth.

The NTSB also laid some fault with Island Express Helicopters Inc., citing inadequate safety reviews and improper oversight.

The settlement, says ABC News, will end Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuits against Zobayan’s estate, Island Express Helicopters, and Island Express owner Island Express Holding Corp.

CNN notes that Vanessa Bryant still has another lawsuit pending against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and its sheriff, Alex Villanueva. In that case, Bryant claims that the Los Angeles County deputies who responded to the crash took grisly photos of the aftermath, which they then shared with their colleagues and the public.


Kobe Bryant’s widow, other families, settle wrongful death suit related to fatal helicopter crash

Kobe Bryant’s widow to settle lawsuit over deadly crash

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