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Family Of Ukrainian Crew Member Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Fox News Over 2022 Attack

The family of a Ukrainian translator and “fixer” filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fox News and a series of other defendants, claiming that the network was “reckless and negligent” and has tried to conceal key information for what happened when a crew was attacked outside of Kyiv on March 14, 2022.

The lawsuit was filed by Andriy Kuvshynov and Irina Mamaysur, the parents of Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, an independent contractor who was killed in the attack as the network crew was reporting on the latest in the Russian invasion. Cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski also was killed, and correspondent Benjamin Hall was seriously wounded.

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Another plaintiff in the lawsuit, Shane Thomson, who was employed by SEPAR, a security firm retained by the network. He claimed that he was scapegoated in the aftermath of the attack.

The lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court on Thursday, the second anniversary of the attack.

Kuvshynova’s parents contend that Fox News adequate security protection to the crew, and that since then, the network has “engaged in a campaign of material misrepresentations and omissions to hide its own accountability.”

The lawsuit noted that Kuvshynova and other members of the Fox News crew were sent out to report and gather footage of the conflict in an area outside of Kyiv, but that the region was deemed at the time “the most dangerous place in Ukraine,” and that red flags were ignored. According to the lawsuit, Thomson had rejected the idea of venturing into the zone the day before, and a top local official in the area, the mayor of Irpin, had issued a proclamation banning all journalists. Another journalist, Brent Renaud, was killed in the area the previous day, according to the lawsuit.

On that day, the Fox News crew met with two Azov soldiers who were freelancing as media guides, but their car was not large enough to carry them all. Duncan Gordon, another security contractor, was left behind and instead waited at a rendezvous point, according to the lawsuit.

“The absence of the security contractor was vital, as the crew made fatal mistakes, such as stopping at an abandoned Ukrainian checkpoint, which both sides would have pre-programmed in their artillery coordinates,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed that Zakrzewski, in addition to a cellphone and camera, had a satellite phone that allowed him to stay in contact with Fox management outside Ukraine. The lawsuit claimed that Fox is “in possession of all the cameras and communications equipment that would reveal communication and approval of these actions which soon proved fatal.”

Fox News issued a statement on the lawsuit, saying, “While we understand the grief and continue to mourn the loss of both Pierre Zakrzewski and Sasha Kuvshynova, we will respectfully defend against the inaccurate claims within this lawsuit. The safety of our journalists has always been our number one priority and we are immensely grateful to the Fox News reporters who have covered the war in Ukraine and we remain committed to reporting from the region.”

On the day before the attack on the crew, on March 13, 2022, correspondent Trey Yingst reported on the death of Renaud, and he also talked how they made continuous risk assessments during a fluid situation. “It’s changing each and every day. That’s why you have to reassess every morning before you go out and gather information,” he said.

“It is important to note in a city like Irpin, the front lines are changing all the time,” he said. “Any given day you could go down a street and the next day you go down that street and it is controlled by Russian forces.”

The Fox News crew was not in Irpin, but Horenka. Michelle Ross-Stanton, Zakrzewski’s widow, told The Washington Post in 2022 that her husband had felt confident of their safety because a team from The New York Times made the same trip with the same group of soldiers a day earlier.

The lawsuit also named Hall as a defendant, although the litigation said that he may “be more properly aligned in this litigation as a party-plaintiff victim of Fox Defendants’ wrongful conduct.”

Hall wrote about his experience and his recovery in Saved, a memoir last year that was published by HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corp., the sister corporation to Fox Corp.

The lawsuit claimed that Hall’s book “includes a misleading account that Russian forces were ‘understood’ to be 30 miles away” when in fact they were “within a mile of Russian forces when they were killed, less than a quarter mile from the Irpin city limits.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Kuvshynova’s parents contend that they were induced to sign waiver and non-disparagement agreements in order to receive their daughter’s back pay as well as funeral expenses and life insurance coverage.

The lawsuit claimed that Thomson objected to driving a hearse with Zakrzewski’s body from Lviv to the Polish border, but “was told by Fox that he had to.” He was “severely traumatized by the combined experience of his colleagues being killed, transporting the dead body of his friend, and then being dismissed,” according to the lawsuit. He also attempted suicide, and claimed that Fox employees “spread a false story” that he had a drinking problem at the time of the fatal incident, the lawsuit stated.

Also named in the lawsuit are Fox Corp., News Corp., Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and HarperCollins. Rupert Murdoch, who was then executive chairman, also was named.

Zakrzewski’s widow, Ross-Stanton, entered a wrongful death settlement agreement with Fox in addition to insurance coverage and funeral expenses, according to the lawsuit.

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