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Kobe Bryant's wife files wrongful death lawsuit

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash is likely one of the biggest tragedies of 2020. The final cause of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter’s crash into a hillside in Calabasas (of Los Angeles) amid heavy fog is not official. Still, lawyers for Bryant’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the aircraft’s owners and the pilot’s estate. There was no evidence that there was a mechanical issue that caused the crash.

Vanessa Bryant filed a 27-count lawsuit on the day when friends, family and fans gathered at the Staples Center for an emotional memorial service for the basketball great and his daughter. The suit names Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holdings Corp., which operated and owned the aircraft. It also names the pilot’s estate as a defendant.

Pilot accused of negligence

The main complaint in the suit involves the pilot, who died in the crash. The lawsuit accuses the pilot of breach of negligence and breach of duty in operating the aircraft. According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit alleges that:

  • The pilot violated Island Express Helicopters FAA operating certificate that forbade pilots from flying in dense fog or low clouds.
  • The pilot failed to accurately monitor the weather before takeoff and chose to fly despite the foggy conditions.
  • The FAA cited the pilot in 2015 for violating Los Angeles International’s airspace and other violations.
  • Island Express did not install a terrain alarm system, which would have warned the pilot of the hillside.

The pilot, who had 8,000 hours of flight experience, did have clearance from Burbank Airport’s air traffic control to fly through Los Angeles, but it was up to his judgment if he was to continue beyond the control of that airport’s control zone.

This is just the beginning

The suit does not list an amount for damages. The families of the six other victims (not including the pilot) will likely file lawsuits as well.

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