Families sue helicopter company involved in Kobe Bryant crash

Many Ohio basketball fans were shocked and saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles in January. In February, Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that owned the Sikorsky S-76 aircraft involved in the accident. Now, the family members of four other passengers have also filed wrongful death complaints.

According to media reports, the surviving family of Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife and their daughter and the surviving family of basketball coach Christina Mauser filed wrongful death claims in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19. The suits contend that Island Express Helicopters Inc. and Island Express Holding Corp. were negligent and careless for allowing the helicopter to fly in foggy weather on the morning of Jan. 26. Unlike Bryant’s lawsuit, the new complaints do not name the helicopter pilot, who also died in the crash, as a defendant.

In February, National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded that engine failure did not play a role in the accident. In addition, a New York Times report found that Island Express pilots were not properly certified to fly in foggy conditions. Days after the crash, Island Express suspended business operations.

When negligence causes someone’s death, the victim’s next of kin can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. While a financial settlement can never make up for the loss of a loved one, it could compensate a grieving family for funeral and burial costs, loss of income, loss of companionship, mental anguish, and other losses. Families could learn more about their legal rights by consulting with a personal injury attorney.