Vanessa Bryant has filed a wrongful death lawsuit after her husband and daughter were killed in a fatal helicopter accident. She says the helicopter pilot was negligent and caused the accident. The lawsuit targets the company who the pilot worked for. Nine people were killed in the crash. Bryant chose to file the lawsuit just before the memorial service was conducted, which she said was a “celebration of life.”
The lawsuit alleges that the company should have never allowed the helicopter to fly in the inclement weather conditions that were present that day. It contends that the heavy fog the day of the crash should have guaranteed that no one was allowed to fly.
Authorities say that the helicopter was extremely close to breaking free of the fog when it crashed. The lawsuit alleges that the pilot was flying the aircraft going at least 180 mph, a dangerous speed in such dense fog — but also likely a ploy to break free of it.
The lawsuit has yet to name the exact amount of damages sought for the two wrongful deaths, but we do know that Bryant wants the court to award punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that pilots must be able to see the flight path in order to safely fly. Pilot Zobayan was cited in 2015 for failing to abide by these rules. Afterward, he received counseling — but there was no legal action taken subsequent.
According to the lawsuit, the company, Island Express Inc., also should have taken action to install a standardized alarm system to warn the pilot that he was close to the ground. The FAA only requires the systems on air ambulances, but the NTSB recommends that all helicopters like the crashed model install them as well.
After the accident that killed Kobe and his daughter, Island Express halted service to give time for staff to process the event.
Records indicate that at least three helicopter crashes occurred inside the company since 1985. Two resulted in fatalities. All three accidents occurred off the coast of Southern California.
The lawsuit said, “Acts and omissions of the defendant has manifested such reckless and complete indifference to and a conscious disregard for the safety of others.” A spokesperson said that the purpose of the lawsuit was to deter any negligence that might occur in the future.
Zobayan worked for Island Express for at least ten years prior to the accident.