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Kobe Bryant’s Widow Vanessa Sues Helicopter Operator for Wrongful Death

Bryant, his daughter and seven others died in a Jan. 26 crash

Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Monday against the company who owned the helicopter that crashed last month killing the NBA star, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

The lawsuit — filed against Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp., and the survivors of the pilot, Ara Zobayan — comes on the same day as a memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles honoring the life of the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Bryant says in her lawsuit that Zobayan failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.” Zobayan also died in the crash. The lawsuit says in part, “On information and belief, Defendant Island Express Helicopters employed Defendant Zobayan with conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others and authorized or ratified his wrong conduct, and itself engaged in conduct with malice, oppression, or fraud.”

In addition, Bryant says that Zobayan “failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to the takeoff, failed to obtain proper weather data prior to the subject flight, failed to abort the flight when he knew of the cloudy conditions … failed to avoid natural obstacles in the flight path … (and) failed to properly and safely operate the helicopter resulting in a crash.”

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report on Feb. 7 that the helicopter carrying the Bryants and 7 others did not suffer from engine failure at the time of the fatal crash. The NTSB report said the helicopter was destroyed by “impact forces and fire.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.