While family, friends and fans gathered at the Staples Center for a memorial service to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, attorneys for Vanessa Bryant reportedly filed a wrongful death lawsuit regarding the accident that took their lives. Vanessa is suing Island Express Helicopters, the company that owned and operated the helicopter whose crash killed her husband Kobe, 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others last month. The suit alleges that the company failed to take the appropriate precautions and ignored clear signs that weather conditions were unsafe.
Per NBC, Vanessa’s lawyers filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday morning. The suit calls out helicopter pilot Ara George Zobayan, as well as the company at large, for failing to “use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under same or similar circumstances.”
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 24, 2020
On January 26, the day of the helicopter crash, the suit alleges that Zobayan failed to assess available weather data. Other helicopter operators — including the Los Angeles Police Department — had grounded their helicopters until the afternoon to wait out the dense fog, but Island Express Helicopters did not.
The suit says that Zobayan should have consulted the weather data and cancelled the flight altogether, and that his failure to do so forced him to fly in conditions that didn’t allow for adequate visual references. Zobayan is further accused of failing to keep a safe distance from obstacles in his flight path, and failing to maintain control of the helicopter, which was reportedly flying at 180 miles per hour in the moments before it crashed, killing Kobe, Gianna, and the seven other passengers inside.
The suit also notes that Zobayan was disciplined in 2015 for a similar violation, flying into an area of reduced visibility that violated safety standards. Overall, the suit alleges that Island Express Helicopters and Zobayan should never have allowed this flight to occur, and that they engaged in needlessly risky behavior by failing to abort.
Seeking unspecified and various damages, the suit claims the “negligent” Zobayan did not “use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” https://t.co/H8KW0L4cTv
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) February 24, 2020
TMZ reports that Vanessa is seeking punitive damages for their reckless behavior, as well as damages for the “pre-impact” terror suffered by Kobe and Gianna, and damages for loss of companionship, loss of financial support and burial and funeral expenses.
The full amount that Vanessa is requesting is unknown, and Island Express Helicopters has not yet responded to requests for comment at this time.
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