Vanessa Bryant sues helicopter operator for deaths of Kobe, Gianna

WATCH: Preparations are underway at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles as it gets set to host a Celebration of Life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant have filed a wrongful death suit against the helicopter operator involved in the death of her husband, Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gianna.

Bryant lodged the 27-count complaint against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. in the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Associated Press reports. Her team alleges that pilot Ara Zobayan, who died in the crash, was “negligent.”

They allege that Zobayan failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft,” and didn’t assess weather data before takeoff, NBC News says.

The suit accuses Zobayan of eight different counts of negligence, including failing to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter.


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Calls to Island Express seeking comment were not answered and its voicemail was full.

As the lawsuit news broke, thousands gathered at the Staples Center for a memorial service celebrating the life of Kobe and Gianna.

The father-daughter duo, along with seven other people including Alyssa, Keri and John Altobello, Christina Mauser, and Payton and Sarah Chester, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

At the time, the Los Angeles Police Department said it grounded its helicopters that afternoon given how foggy it was, NBC reports.

It’s alleged in the lawsuit that Zoboyan should have aborted the flight knowing the cloudy conditions, but failed to do so.


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According to TMZ, Zobayan was disciplined in 2015 for violating the visual flight rule enforced by Island Express. He reportedly broke those rules that year by flying into an airspace of reduced visibility, the same act that reportedly caused the crash that killed Kobe and Gianna.

Both regular and charter services provided by Island Express have been suspended since Jan. 30 following the crash.

A statement on their website reads: “All services (regular and charter) were immediately suspended following the tragic accident on Sunday, January 26.”

“The shock of the accident affected all staff, and management decided that service would be suspended until such time as it was deemed appropriate for staff and customers.”

As yet, the company hasn’t released a statement regarding the lawsuit.

—With files from the Associated Press

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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