Federal safety investigators believe the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter on January 26, 2020, was caused by the pilot violating federal safety standards.
Investigators claim that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, broke federal regulations when he allegedly flew into a cloud that obstructed his vision.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant's widow, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters alleging that Zobayan was "negligent and careless" in piloting the helicopter that day.
"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 says.
Island Express Helicopters then filed a cross-complaint against two air traffic controllers for alleged "negligent acts" claiming that flight controllers denied a request by Zobayan for a "flight following" before ensuring that the request could not be met.
The cross-complaint pushed Bryant's lawsuit to federal court, in which her attorney's asserted the move was a "transparent and untenable attempt to forum-shop their way into federal court."
"Defendants unlawfully and improperly seek to deprive Mrs. Bryant of her lawful choice of forum in California state court," said Bryant's attorneys.
Seven others on board, including Zobayan, were also killed in the crash.