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Kobe Bryant knew risks of flying before deadly crash, pilot’s brother says

Kobe Bryant
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The brother of the pilot in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others argued in a court filing that the former Lakers star knew the risks of flying in a helicopter and his surviving family members aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate.

Vanessa Bryant sued the estate of Ara Zobayan, the pilot, and the charter company that owned the helicopter, Island Express, in February. In the lawsuit, Bryant’s widow accused Zobayan, who also died in the crash, of failing “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and negligence.

The answer to the complaint filed by Berge Zobayan in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday disputed the lawsuit’s claims.

“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 answer said.

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Vanessa Bryant has filed a claim against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department over deputies sharing “unauthorized” photos of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others.

Island Express hasn’t filed an answer to the lawsuit stemming from the January crash in Calabasas amid dense fog on the way to a youth basketball game at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.

In addition to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, the others who died were John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Payton and Sarah Chester; Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan.

Surviving members of the Altobelli and Mauser families sued Island Express last month.

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Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit accused Zobayan, the longtime pilot for Kobe Bryant, of failing to abort the flight, not monitoring and assessing the weather, and failing to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the 1991 Sikorsky S-76B helicopter.

We talked about basketball, but we also talked about life and his family. He loved spending time with his wife, Vanessa, and their daughters, Natalia, 16, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born last June.

An attorney representing Bryant didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A case management conference in the lawsuit is scheduled for June 22.


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