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Vanessa Bryant files wrongful death lawsuit against helicopter company over crash that killed Kobe Bryant, eight others

LOS ANGELES (February 25, 2020) – Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed last month, killing her husband Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others. The lawsuit was announced the same day as thousands of mourners gathered for a memorial service at LA’s Staples Center to honor the basketball superstar and the other victims of the crash.

The complaint was filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. The lawsuit alleges pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash in Calabasas, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent. Kobe Bryant died “as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan” for which “the company is vicariously liable in all respects,” the 27-count complaint states.

The lawsuit, which also names Zobayan’s estate as a defendant, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

According to a report Indianapolis-based news station WTHR, a Federal Aviation Administration enforcement record shows Zaboyan was counseled in 2015 after he strayed into Los Angeles International Airport space after being denied permission to cross because of reduced visibility. The FAA record says Zobayan admitted fault and took responsibility for the error.

The 1991 Sikorsky S-76B crashed into a Calabasas, Calif. hillside amid dense fog while flying to a youth basketball game at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on Jan. 26. All nine people aboard the helicopter died.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found no engine or mechanical failure. The agency’s probe of the crash is ongoing.

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