Brother of Pilot in Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Blames Passengers in Response to Vanessa Bryant's Lawsuit
By Jennifer Drysdale
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The brother of pilot Ara Zobayan has responded to Vanessa Bryant's wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that Kobe Bryant and other passengers were responsible for their fatal Jan. 26 helicopter crash.
In court documents obtained by ET, Berge Zobayan -- who is a representative for his late brother, Ara, in the case -- argues that the NBA star knew the risks of flying and his surviving family members are not entitled to damages from the pilot's estate.
"Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility," the documents filed by Berge claimed. The response, which was submitted on May 8, also lists Bryant's daughters as plaintiffs and requests a jury trial.
Earlier this year, Vanessa filed a 72-page lawsuit against Ara's estate and Island Express Helicopters, the company that owned the helicopter. She claimed Ara "had a duty to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances." The lawsuit also cited several areas where Ara may have been negligent, and alleged that Island Express Helicopters had "advance knowledge of the unfitness" of Ara due to a previous violation in 2015. Vanessa is asking for punitive damages.
In a response filed on Monday, Island Express Helicopters deny the allegations that any injuries or damages were a result of any action by them.
In court documents obtained by ET, Island Express claims that the passengers "had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assume the risk of the accident, injury, and damages."
The company also claims that it was "an unavoidable accident and not proximately caused by any alleged act or omission on the part."
Passengers in the Jan. 26 crash included Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, as well as John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Christina Mauser.
See more in the video below.
Additional reporting by Joseph Corral and Mannie Holmes.