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Kobe Bryant’s widow files suit against helicopter operator

The death of basketball great Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash will likely be one of the most tragic stories of 2020. Now Bryant’s widow has filed a 27-count lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp., which operated the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. The claim accuses pilot Ara Zobayan (who died in the crash) of negligence and failure to properly operate the aircraft and names the pilot’s estate as a defendant.

The suit

Bryant’s suit alleges that the pilot had been previously cited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for violations, including an airspace violation of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2015. Moreover, the pilot also violated Island Express Helicopters FAA operating certificate that barred pilots from going up and flying in low clouds and dense fog that grounded other aircraft in the area.  The suit also alleges that the pilot “failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to takeoff,” and the pilot “failed to attain proper weather data” before the flight.  However, the pilot had an accommodation known as “special visual flight rules.”

At this time, there is no amount listed for compensatory and punitive damages. Based on the details of the initial lawsuit, the chances are that other families will soon file their own suits, and are within their own rights to do so.