According to The Los Angeles Times, Bryant filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters. The suit alleges that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the helicopter crash in Calabasas, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent.
The lawsuit explained, “Defendant Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions,” The complaint argues that Kobe Bryant died “as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan” for which “the company is vicariously liable in all respects.”
The complaint filed by Vanessa is 27 pages long, according to The Los Angeles Times. It also lists Zobayan’s estate as a defendant and it seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The actual amount was not disclosed.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among eight passengers who died in the helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26 outside of Los Angeles. The lawsuit “accuses Zobayan, Bryant’s longtime pilot, of several acts of negligence including failing to abort the flight, failing to monitor and assess the weather, and failure to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the helicopter.”
The suit also says that the company didn’t enact “adequate training and/or supervision” after the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) citation “to ensure the negligent action did not re-occur” and claims it “promoted and engaged in unnecessary and needlessly risky means of transport under the circumstances.”
According to The National Transportation Safety Board, engine failure has been ruled out as a cause of the crash. Federal investigators deduced that the pilot of the helicopter was struggling with fog shortly before the crash. The extent to which the weather played a role in the crash will be further assessed, considering it “was so foggy that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff’s department had grounded their own choppers,” according to the Boston Globe. Experts question if Bryant’s helicopter should’ve taken flight in the first place.
TMZ reports that Island Express might not have enough money to go around even if they are sued by the families of victims who died. Sources say the company had liability insurance coverage that only totaled $50 million. TMZ sources say this isn’t an unusual figure, however, considering the number of people who died on the helicopter and considering rich celebrities use the service, $50 million is a low number. A more reasonable amount of coverage for the company would be more along the lines of $100 million.
As of now, Vanessa Bryant is the only family member who’s suing. The Los Angeles Times reports that Island Express suspended operation indefinitely after the crash.