Vanessa Bryant settles wrongful death lawsuit vs. helicopter company, pilot's estate

·2 min read

The widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant has reached a confidential settlement to end her lawsuit against those she blamed for the death of her husband and daughter in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles in January 2020.

Less than a month after the accident, Vanessa Bryant sued the companies that owned and operated the helicopter, as well as the estate of the late helicopter pilot, accusing them of negligence and causing the wrongful death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

She sought damages in return for the losses she suffered and was joined by three other families who lost loved ones in the crash that killed nine.

Those families also sued and are part of the settlement that resolves their consolidated lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp., and the estate of Ara Zobayan, the pilot who also died in the crash.

“The material terms of the settlement and releases are known to the settling parties and include that the terms of the settlement are confidential,” according to a court document filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.

KOBE BRYANT REMEMBERED: Special coverage of a year after the deadly helicopter crash

Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, speaks on his behalf during the Class of 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 15.
Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, speaks on his behalf during the Class of 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 15.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded earlier this year that Zobayan's poor decision-making was the likely cause of the crash. In her suit, Vanessa Bryant said 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.

“As a direct and proximate result of the aforesaid negligence and carelessness on the part of defendant Zobayan, Kobe Bryant was killed,” the lawsuit states.

She accused the helicopter owner, Island Express Holding Corp., of failing to equip its helicopter with a traffic avoidance and warning system. She also stated that Island Express Helicopters, the helicopter’s operator, knew or should have known that they were prohibited from operating that helicopter under instrument flight rules, which are used in foggy or cloudy conditions like those on the morning of the crash.

In a separate lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles, Vanessa Bryant has accused county public safety workers of improperly sharing photos of her deceased husband and daughter from the crash site. The county says her lawsuit has no basis and is fighting back.

Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: bschrotenb@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vanessa Bryant settles wrongful death lawsuit over Kobe's crash