KEY POINTS

  • The terms of the settlement were not disclosed
  • The plaintiffs argued that the pilot was flying at high speed prior to the crash
  • The NTSB report showed that the pilot may have suffered self-induced pressure to complete the flight

Vanessa Bryant has reached a confidential settlement with the company that operated the helicopter involved in the crash last year that killed her husband, former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, her 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. 

Bryant and other plaintiffs filed a "joint notice of settlement and joint request to vacate discovery deadlines" Tuesday, more than a year after filing a lawsuit against the company, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The documents did not state the terms of the settlement. The agreement would still require court approval. 

Bryant and the families of the other seven victims filed a lawsuit in February 2020 against Island Express Helicopters following the death of their loved ones in the Calabasas crash on Jan. 26 that year. In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed Ara Zobayan, the pilot, pushed through with the flight even when the conditions were unsafe for flying, the lawsuit read, as reported by TMZ.

The plaintiffs also argued that the pilot was flying at a high rate of speed of 180 miles per hour in the heavy fog moments before the deadly crash.  

The lawsuit claims the pilot failed to monitor and assess the weather moments before the takeoff and failed to abort the flight despite the cloudy condition. It also noted that Zobayan had been disciplined in 2015 for violating flying rules by traversing into areas with low visibility. 

An investigation conducted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the crash found pilot error to be the reason for the crash.

Other victims of the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa. Christina Mauser, who helped Kobe Bryant train his daughter Gianna’s basketball team; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton; and pilot Zobayan also died. Payton Chester was Gianna’s teammate.

In its 86-page report of the January 2020 crash, the NTSB said Zobayan made a “poor decision” to fly at a high speed despite poor visibility. 

The report said the helicopter’s engines and controls were working normally during the crash. They also ruled out other factors that could have led to the crash, such as radio communication error with air traffic controllers or pressure on the pilot to fly in the weather conditions from the charter company. 

The NTSB also found that the pilot may have also suffered from “self-induced pressure” to complete the flight for his star client. 

"The pilot took pride in these positions with both the client and Island Express. They had a good relationship with the client and likely did not want to disappoint them by not completing the flight. This self-induced pressure can adversely affect pilot decision-making and judgment," an official for the NTSB said, according to Fox News.

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant speaks during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles on February 24, 2020. Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant speaks during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles on February 24, 2020. Photo: AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN