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Families involved in Kobe Bryant crash file lawsuit against helicopter company

NTSB investigators Adam Huray, right, and Carol Hogan examine helicopter wreckage.
Adam Huray, right, and Carol Hogan examine wreckage as part of the NTSB’s investigation of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas.
(James Anderson / NTSB)

Nearly three months after the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, the surviving members of two families have sued the company that operated the aircraft.

In wrongful death complaints filed Sunday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Altobelli and Mauser families allege that negligence by Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters resulted in the accident in Calabasas.

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs suffered a variety of damages because of the “careless, negligence and unlawful conduct” of the defendants.

John Altobelli, wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa died in the crash. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family’s two remaining children.

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Matthew Mauser, whose wife, Christina, died in the crash, also sued, along with his three children.

JJ Altobelli, with Lexi Altobelli and Carly Konigsfeld, speaks at Angel Stadium Feb. 10.
JJ Altobelli, with sister Lexi Altobelli and Carly Konigsfeld, speaks at a ceremony at Angel Stadium on Feb. 10. John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli were among nine killed in the crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

An attorney for Island Express declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Sikorsky S-76B slammed into a hillside near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street amid dense fog on Jan. 26 while flying to a youth basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. All nine people aboard were killed.

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Gianna Bryant and Alyssa Altobelli were teammates, and Christina Mauser was an assistant coach.

The other victims were Payton Chester, another teammate; Sarah Chester, her mother; and Ara Zobayan, the pilot.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board didn’t find any engine or mechanical failure.

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Vanessa Bryant sued Island Express in February on the same day as the memorial service at Staples Center to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

That wrongful death complaint alleged the company “permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions” and said the company should hve installed a terrain alarm system in the helicopter that could have warned Zobayan he was nearing a hillside. Federal regulations don’t require the helicopter to have that system.

The lawsuits filed Sunday seek unspecified monetary damages.


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