The family members of four people who died in the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the California-based company that owned and operated the Sikorsky S-76 involved. The two lawsuits, which were filed on April 20 in Los Angeles County, allege that the company acted negligently by allowing its pilot to fly in dangerously foggy conditions on the morning of Jan. 26. All of the helicopter’s nine occupants died in the accident.
One of the wrongful death lawsuits was filed by the children of a baseball coach who perished in the accident along with his wife and daughter. The plaintiffs in the second lawsuit are the husband and children of a youth basketball coach who died. The helicopter was transporting its passengers from Los Angeles to a basketball tournament in Camarillo when it struck a hillside near Calabasas.
The weather conditions at the time of the helicopter accident were treacherous enough to prompt the Los Angeles Police Department to temporarily ground all of its aircraft. The plaintiffs claim that the helicopter company placed profits over passenger safety by not doing likewise. Bryant’s widow has also sued the company and the estate of the pilot. The latest lawsuits do not name the pilot as a defendant. A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that the accident was not caused by engine failure.
Lawsuits filed in the wake of air disasters are usually settled before they go to court when comprehensive accident investigations conclude that human error likely played a role. When pursuing cases on behalf of accident victims or their dependents, experienced personal injury attorneys may cite the findings of NTSB experts during settlement negotiations to encourage the defendants to take responsibility for their negligent actions.