CHICAGO, IL – Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc., the company that operated the helicopter, that killed her husband Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others. The lawsuit was announced the same day that thousands crowded Los Angeles’s Staple Center to honor the lives of the victims.
The complaint was filed February 24, the same day as the memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The complaint was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleging Ara Zobayan, the pilot, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent in eight ways, including failing to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter. The 27-count complaint names Zobayan’s estate as a defendant, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
“Defendant Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions,” the lawsuit states.
Zobayan was cited by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2015 for violating the visual flight rules, that required him to see where he was going, when flying into reduced visibility airspace.
Kobe Bryant died “as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which the company is vicariously liable in all aspects,” according to the complaint.
The 1991 Sikorsky S-76B crashed into a hillside in Calabasas while traveling to a youth basketball game at Kobe Bryan’t Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. All nine aboard the helicopter died.
A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found no engine or mechanical failure; however, the agency’s probe of the crash is ongoing.