Vanessa Bryant Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit With Helicopter Company Involved In Husband’s Fatal Crash
UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT - MAY 15: Vanessa Bryant is helped off the stage by presenter Michael Jordan after speaking on behalf of Class of 2020 inductee, Kobe Bryant during the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 15, 2021 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Kobe Bryant tragically died in a California helicopter crash on Jan 26, 2020. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The wrongful death lawsuit following the accident that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January 2020, was settled on Tuesday. Vanessa Bryant, who filed the suit along with members of the families of the seven other people killed in the January helicopter crash, agreed to settle the lawsuit against the pilot and the helicopter company. 

According to the L.A. Times, “the helicopter company and insurers filed ‘joint notice of settlement and joint request to vacate discovery deadlines’ documents with the court on Tuesday.”

Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, were flying from Orange County along with six other passengers when the helicopter entered a thick fog in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. The pilot of the aircraft — Ara Zobayan — reportedly climbed to get out of the clouds but crashed into the mountains, killing all nine people onboard. 

The suit, filed against Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters, alleged that Zobayan failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” during the crash. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determined in February that the decision to fly in cloudy conditions was the cause of the crash. The NTSB also noted that Zobayan “likely” felt pressure to get Bryant to his destination, contributing to the crash. 

Vanessa Bryant’s suit claims that “Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions.” The complaint also alleges that Bryant died  “as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan,” for which “the company is vicariously liable in all respects.”

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, though Island Express Helicopters denied responsibility, calling the crash “an act of God” it couldn’t control.  

While the settlement against the pilot and helicopter company is now concluded, it does not put an end to the lawsuits resulting from the crash. 

In May, Bryant filed court documents as part of an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Los Angeles County. 

The lawsuit alleges that according to a Sheriff’s Department investigatory report, one deputy took 25 to 100 photos of the crash site — including Bryant’s body — on his personal cell phone and that at least eight deputies took other photos at the site of the crash. 

Two Los Angeles County firefighters were also named in the suit and could be fired, while a third firefighter could be suspended after it was discovered they’d allegedly taken and shared graphic photos from the crash site. 

An internal investigation found the two had taken photos of the bodies that “served no business necessity” and “only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip.”

As reported by The Daily Wire, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been accused of attempting to cover up the actions of the Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies. Villanueva admitted to ordering deputies to delete photos of the crash due to concern that they would be leaked to the public or to the media.

“Had we done the original, usual routine, which was relieve everybody of duty and everybody lawyers up and all that, that would increase the odds 10-fold that those photos would have somehow made their way into the public domain,” Villanueva told NBC News in March 2020. “And that’s definitely what we do not want.”

Vanessa Bryant spoke in place of her deceased husband in May as Kobe Bryant was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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