Kobe Bryant’s Widow Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Helicopter Company

February 24, 2020 Updated: February 24, 2020
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Attorneys for the widow of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed last month, killing her husband, her daughter, and seven others.

A complaint was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp., accusing the pilot of failing to “use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft.” The pilot, Ara Zobayan, also died in the crash.

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said,  KTLA reported.

The lawsuit claims Island Express was only allowed to fly under certain flight rules, saying that weather conditions at the time of the crash weren’t suitable for flight, TMZ reported. It also alleged that the pilot was flying 180 mph in the fog in a decline before it crashed into the side of a hill in Calabasas, California.

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site
Personnel collect debris while working with investigators at the helicopter crash site of NBA star Kobe Bryant in Calabasas, Californi,a on Jan. 28, 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

Zobayan was penalized in 2015 for violating visual flight rules. He took responsibility for that error and was counseled by a Federal Aviation Administration investigator following the incident, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing records from the agency.

Bryant is asking for punitive damages, although the exact amount wasn’t disclosed in the suit. Island Express hasn’t issued a response to the lawsuit.

Kobe and Gigi Bryant were both honored during a memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 23.