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Discovery Sued Over Fatal Reality TV Helicopter Crash

Daughter of crash victim claims negligent hiring

Discovery Communications has been slapped with a lawsuit over a fatal helicopter crash that occurred during a reality television production last February.

The suit, filed by Sonya Joubert, a guardian for Sofia Victoria Donatelli, whose father Michael William Donatelli died as a result of the crash, also lists a host of other defendants, including production company Eyeworks USA, Orbic Air and Crossbow Helicopters.

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The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, alleges that Orbic, Crossbow, and pilot David Gene Gibbs — whose estate is listed in the suit — acted negligently on a number of counts,  including failing to act reasonably in the ownership of the helicopter; failing to maintain proper, safe, and/or adequate control over the helicopter; and failing to abort the flight given the adverse weather, visibility, landing zone and other conditions.

According to the suit, the helicopter was operated at low altitudes over hilly terrain with low lighting, poor visibility and in frost conditions when it suddenly pitched down and crashed in Acton in Los Angeles County, killing Donatelli.

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The suit claims that Discovery, Eyeworks and others “owed a duty to protect foreseeable persons, including Michael William Donatelli, against an unreasonable risk of physical harm” and “knew or should have known that Defendants Gibbs, Crossbow, Oribic” and other defendants “were unfit for specific tasks to be performed, namely the general safe operation of a helicopter.”

Discovery has not yet responded to TheWrap‘s request for comment.

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Donatelli’s daughter “has sustained damages resulting from the loss of love, affection, society, service, comfort, support, right of support, expectations of future support, and counseling, companionship, solace, and mental support, as well as other benefits and assistance” as a result of the fatal accident, the suit contends.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.