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Family Members Of Four Killed In Kobe Bryant Crash Sue Helicopter Company

Almost three months after LA basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash, family members of four people who died in the crash are suing to hold the helicopter's owners liable in the deaths.

The two lawsuits, filed electronically on Sunday in Los Angeles Superior Court, allege that Island Express Helicopter, Inc., and its owner Island Express Holding Corp., were negligent and careless, behavior that was a "substantial factor" in the crash.

Plaintiffs John and Alexis Altobelli, whose parents and sister were killed in the Jan. 26 accident, have suffered economic and noneconomic damages as a result of the companies' alleged carelessness, according to the lawsuit.

A nearly identical suit was filed on behalf of Christina Mauser's widower and children. Mauser was a basketball coach with the Mamba Sports Academy.

In February a preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found no signs of engine failure.

What began as a routine trip from Santa Ana, Calif., to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks quickly changed; despite heavy fog and inclement weather, pilot Ara Zobayan requested special clearance from flight controllers to continue flying.

The NTSB found Zobayan flew into the clouds and lost control of the helicopter; shortly after that the aircraft crashed into a hillside in Calabassas, killing all nine people on board.

The helicopter was carrying Christina Mauser, a coach for the Mamba Sports Academy girls' team that Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester played for. They were also aboard, as were Altobelli's parents and Chester's mother.

Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant's widow, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February, on the same day a memorial service was held for her daughter and the Lakers superstar at the Staples Center.

In that complaint, the plaintiffs contend Zobayan failed "to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft."

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Hannah Hagemann is a 2019 Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she will work at NPR's National Desk and Weekend Edition.