Defendants in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash lawsuit want case moved out of LA
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Attorneys for the pilot being sued by Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, are requesting that the lawsuit be moved from Los Angeles over concerns that jurors in the city will not be impartial.

Bryant’s suit accuses pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also killed in the January crash, of negligence and failure to “use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft.” The suit was filed against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp., which operated the helicopter in the crash.

The Bryants[ 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant was also killed.


"No reasonable person can argue that an average juror will view with dispassion the claims of the Bryant family in comparison to the defenses presented by the estate of the pilot," a motion filed by defense lawyer Arthur Willner, who represents Berge Zobayan said, NBC News reported. Berge Zobayan, Ara Zobayan's brother, is listed as “successor in interest” for the late pilot. 

"No cogent argument can be asserted that the estate of the pilot, whom the Bryant family asserts was the cause of the death of Mr. Bryant, will not begin trial with the proverbial 'two strikes' already against him due to the extreme level of popularity of plaintiff with the jury pool,” the motion continued. The defense has called for the case to be moved to the suburb of Orange County.

Willner told NBC News that while Bryant's popularity "clearly" extends beyond Los Angeles, he for many years was "the face" of the city.

Vanessa Bryant filed the wrongful death suit in February. 

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit read.

It states that the pilot Ara Zobayan had previously been cited for rule violations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It also says Island Express’s FAA operating certificate blocked pilots from flying under the weather conditions on the day of the January crash.