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Families involved in Kobe Bryant crash file lawsuit against helicopter company

Nathan Fenno
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles — 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.

JJ Altobelli, accompanied by Lexi Altobelli and Carly Konigsfeld, speaks during a celebration of life ceremony at Angel Stadium on Feb. 10, 2020 in Anaheim, Calif. to honor the lives of John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, who were among the nine killed in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

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 nearby 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.

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

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

The Sikorsky S-76B slammed into a hillside 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.

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.

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 have 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.