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Kobe Bryant’s Widow Vanessa Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Helicopter Firm

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant, the wife of late basketball star Kobe Bryant has filed a lawsuit against Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters in relation to the death of her husband Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna alongside seven others.

News of the suit filtered into the media space as mourners gathered at Staples Center on Monday for a memorial service to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

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Vanessa’s attorneys filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the company who owned the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp, were only allowed to fly under visual flight rules, and the conditions the day of the crash were not conducive for such flying.

The 27-count complaint is seeking general damages, economic damages, punitive damages and more.

In the suit that was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, it claimed that pilot Ara Zobayan who also died in the crash failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.”

The lawsuit claims the pilot was going 180 miles per hour in the heavy fog in a steep decline in the moments before it crashed in Calabasas, CA.

The complaint obtained by CNN claims, in part, that Zobayan:
• “Failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to takeoff;”
• “Failed to abort the flight when he knew of the cloudy conditions;”
• And “failed to properly and safely operate the helicopter resulting in a crash.”
“Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable for any and all actions of Ara George Zobayan, including his negligent and careless piloting and operation of the subject helicopter, by reason of its principal and agent relationship with Ara George Zobayan,” the lawsuit said according to the LA Times.
The 27-count complaint, which also names Zobayan’s estate as a defendant, seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The amount isn’t specified.

Last month, the New York Times claimed, according to sources, that the pilot did not have the legal authority for that specific flight as the charter company did not have the necessary Federal Aviation Administration certification.

Air traffic reports showed that the chopper circled for more than 15 minutes before its final, fatal descent around 21 miles (35km) from downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Department confirmed in the aftermath of the tragedy that conditions were not suitable for flying when Bryant’s helicopter crashed.

“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” spokesman Joe Rubenstein said, as reported by CBS. “The fog was enough that we were not flying.”

Island Express in a statement on Monday said:

“This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation.”

A public memorial to Bryant and the others who tragically died on January 26 was held yesterday in LA at the Staples Center.

 

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