10:30am PT by Ashley Cullins
Vanessa Bryant Sues Helicopter Operator for Wrongful Death in Crash That Killed Kobe
The helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, including the NBA star's teenage daughter, was due to negligence by the pilot and the aircraft's operating company, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday by Vanessa Bryant.
She's suing Island Express Helicopters and the survivors of pilot Ara George Zobayan, who was also killed in the Jan. 26 crash.
Vanessa Bryant says heavy fog and low clouds prompted law enforcement agencies and tour companies to ground their helicopters, but the pilot requested special clearance from air traffic control to keep flying. She says Island Express' FAA operating certificate barred pilots from flying under such conditions and that Zobayan had previously been cited by the FAA for violating the rules.
Bryant argues Island Express is liable for Zobayan's "negligent and careless piloting" and knew or should have known about his previous citation from the FAA and that the company didn't have an adequate safety policy for the cancellation of flights due to unsafe weather conditions.
The suit claims Zobayan failed to properly monitor the weather prior to the flight, failed to abort the flight when he became aware of the conditions, improperly flew the helicopter into conditions under which he couldn't navigate by sight, failed to avoid natural obstacles and failed to properly and safely operate the helicopter.
Bryant is suing for unspecified general, economic and punitive damages. Her legal team is led by Brad D. Brian of Munger, Tolles & Olson and Gary C. Robb of Robb & Robb.