Vanessa Bryant and the families of those who were killed in the tragic helicopter crash alongside Kobe Bryant have agreed to settle their lawsuit. According to ESPN, if the judge agrees to the confidential deal, the settlement would end a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed against the estate of the pilot—who also died in the accident—as well as the owner and operator of the helicopter.
As VIBE previously reported, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp., and the survivors of pilot Ara George Zobayan. The suit alleged the company should be held liable for Zobayan’s “negligent and careless piloting” after he requested special clearance from air traffic control to keep flying despite foggy, unsatisfactory conditions.
Kobe and Vanessa’s daughter Gianna Bryant was also killed in the helicopter crash. In total, six others died in the accident: Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who worked with Bryant in coaching his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, teammates to Alyssa and Gianna.
In February, The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report that revealed the pilot was at fault. Citing a “series of poor decisions” the organization concluded Zobayan flew blindly into thick clouds causing him to believe the helicopter was climbing when it was crashing. Island Express Helicopters Inc. was also cited for inadequate review and oversight of safety matters.
The company claimed the tragedy was “an act of God” it couldn’t control and filed a countersued against two Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers, with claims the crash was the result of a “series of erroneous acts and/or omissions.”
This lawsuit was not the only one filed by Bryant as she worked to get justice for the deaths of her husband and daughter. As of March, she’s taken legal action against the Los Angeles Police Department for taking and/or distributing pictures of bodies from the Jan. 26, 2020 accident. NBC Los Angeles reported U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter ruled the four officers named in the lawsuit—Deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales—did not have any standing to keep their identities private.
According to the lawsuit, distribution of the photos was so rampant, one detective could not even remember who sent the images to his phone.
“As an indication of how casually the photos were shared within the department, the detective could not even identify the name of the deputy who sent him the photos during an interview with department investigators,” the complaint read.
Mejia allegedly “obtained multiple photographs of the Bryants’ remains and stored them on his personal cell phone” and shared them with at least two people. Cruz allegedly received images from Meija and shared them with his family as well as a bartender as he bragged about being at the scene.
Russell allegedly shared the photos with a friend two days after the fatal crash. Versales allegedly sent photos to Meija and the unnamed detective who could not remember the person who shared the files with him.