The brother of the pilot has claimed that Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit against his brother should be dismissed.
The details of the tragic helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gigi, her basketball two teammates, their coach, the pilot, and three others have been revealed. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office released the autopsy reports of all nine victims who died in Calabasas, California crash. It was found that there was no alcohol or drugs in the 50-year-old deceased pilot Ara Zobayan's body, as per ABC.
The NBA star's body was found with injuries to almost his entire body. "These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal," a medical examiner wrote of Bryant. He had Ritalin in his system, a drug for treating attention deficit hyperactivity and narcolepsy.
The helicopter had taken off on the morning of January 26 even though there was heavy fog and cloud cover and was traveling at 183 miles per hour. It was supposed to take the passengers to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for a youth basketball game. The aircraft fell several hundred feet before there was an impact. All passengers died due to blunt force trauma, according to the post-mortem reports. There were also dismembered body parts found at the wreckage site.
The others who died in the crash were 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli and 13-year-old Payton Chester, both Gigi's teammates; Alyssa Altobelli's parents — John and Keri Altobelli — Payton Chester's mother, Sarah, and assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser.
Kobe's widow and Gigi's mother, Vanessa Bryant, had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, the company which operated the helicopter. She filed the lawsuit the same day as Kobe Bryant and Gigi's memorial service. The lawsuit claims that the pilot didn't evaluate the weather data before taking off and neither did he abort the flight due to bad weather when even the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its fleet of helicopters until the afternoon.
"Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable for any and all actions of Ara George Zobayan, including his negligent and careless piloting and operation of the subject helicopter, by reason of its principal and agent relationship with Ara George Zobayan," read the lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant. Christopher Chester, whose wife and daughter died, filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company as well, according to ABC.
"This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation," the company had said in a statement, as per CNN.
Now, the brother of the pilot recently filed a response in Los Angeles Superior Court to Vanessa's lawsuit. The attorneys for Berge Zobayan, the pilot's brother, allege "any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent was directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent." The details of the seven-page document were reported by CNN.
"And that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility," the response said. Attorneys for Zobayan shift "negligence, fault or wrongful conduct of third parties, whom this answering defendant neither controlled nor had the right to control." Berge's lawyers have asked for judgment in his favor and asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. They have also denied every single allegation in the lawsuit against them.
The families of Christina Mauser, as well as John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa, 14, filed wrongful death claims against the company that owned and operated the aircraft but haven't listed Zobayan as a defendant.
Kobe is survived by his wife and three daughters. The family has been resilient during this difficult time and they were confronted with some milestones, which they got past together. They celebrated Gigi's birth anniversary, Vanessa's birthday, and what would have been Kobe and Vanessa's 19th wedding anniversary, in the past months.