Fox News sued by family of Ukrainian producer who died covering Russian invasion

The family of a producer who was killed while covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine has filed a lawsuit against Fox News, saying the network's negligence resulted in her death.

The wrongful death suit filed Thursday in New York by the parents of Sasha Kuvshynova claimed Fox News ignored warnings by local officials and security experts not to travel into the dangerous area near Kyiv where another journalist had been killed a day earlier.

Shortly after the conflict began, Kuvshynova, then 24, was hired as a local fixer to travel with Fox News correspondent Ben Hall and photojournalist Pierre Zakrzewski.  On March 14, 2022, a vehicle carrying the trio near the city limits of Irpin and Hostomel, Ukraine, was hit by Russian artillery shells.

Kuvshynova and Zakrzewski were killed while Hall was gravely injured, losing part of his leg and an eye.

Hall returned to work at Fox News and wrote a bestselling book about the incident and recovery. He recently traveled back to Ukraine for an interview with the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Shane Thomson, a security advisor who worked for Fox News in Ukraine, is also a plaintiff in the suit, which says the network tried to scapegoat him for the tragedy. Thomson, who was not with Hall's crew at the time of the incident, said he and another security consultant warned the journalists against traveling to the area where the attack occurred.

The suit said a ban on journalists in the area had been put in place by Ukrainian authorities and Irpin's mayor. A local driver who was working with Hall's crew also refused to travel in the vicinity, citing the danger.

A Fox News representative said in a statement that there were a number of falsehoods in the suit.

“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 statement said. "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.”

Kuvshynova's parents, who are seeking unspecified punitive damages, said they were pressured by Fox to waive all claims against the company and sign a non-disparagement agreement in return for their daughter's owed salary and a payment from the company's insurer.

Hall and HarperCollins, the publisher of the correspondent's memoir, are also named in the suit. The plaintiffs say Hall's book, called "Saved: A War Reporter's Mission to Make It Home," gives a false account of the details surrounding the deadly attack in order to conceal Fox's alleged wrongdoing.

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"The actual circumstances of Sasha's death — which contradict the official accounts given by Fox, Ben Hall, and HarperCollins — were only uncovered through investigation by their counsel almost two years later. New information, and new contradictions, are still being uncovered to this day," the lawsuit states.

Hall's book said Russian forces were "understood" to be 30 miles away from the area where the attack happened. "In reality, upon information and belief, the crew on their return from Horenka, through Hostomel, were within a mile of Russian forces when they were killed, less than a quarter mile from the Irpin city limits," the suit said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.