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Why is Vanessa Bryant suing the pilot?

Vanessa Bryant

According to the Los Angeles Times, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holdings, Corp. Island Express Helicopters owned the helicopter that was piloted by Ara Zobayan that crashed causing the death of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, and their hopeful future WNBA star 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the seven other people on board.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed shortly before the 2/24/20 memorial service. The suit alleges that the pilot was reckless, and the chopper should have never been cleared to fly. The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that Island Express Helicopters put the helicopter in the air when conditions were not safe for flying. It reportedly claims the company’s breach of its duty and negligence caused the wrongful death.

I, Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks, am the managing partner of GDH Law in Lanham, MD. We handle wrongful
death, personal injury, and other negligence suits. It was interesting to read the comments and questions of the public online about Vanessa Bryant, and why she was filing a wrongful death suit. I will take a few moments to educate the general public from an attorney’s perspective.

1. How Can Vanessa Bryant file a Suit against, Ara Zobayan, he is dead?
Ara Zobayan was an employee of Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding, Corp. Business insurance is required for them to operate. Most business’ have insurance policies of at least 1 million. The company who operated the chopper has an insurance policy in place to handle wrongful death claims. They will even be assigned legal counsel to represent them from the insurance company.

2. Why file a lawsuit? The pilot did not mean to crash the plane. It was just an accident!

Of course, he did not intend to crash the plane. The pilot and Island Express had a duty to use the degree of
care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances. This will be a question the jury will have to answer, but what we do know is that the fog was extremely dense that day. According to Los Angeles law enforcement, it’s air support division grounded is helicopters because of foggy conditions, and could not fly until that afternoon. Remember, there is a commercial insurance policy in place to cover negligence and wrongful death actions.

3. Did the passengers pressure the pilot to fly the plane?

We do NOT know that. What we do know is that the buck stops with the pilot. The passengers are depending on the pilot and the company’s expertise to make reasonable decisions when it comes to weather and if the helicopter should have been grounded.

4. Vanessa Bryant already has money, why is she suing?

There is no amount of money that will bring Kobe and Gianna Bryant back to life. However, corporations often pay attention when lawsuits are filed. Policies are changed, and this may help save someone else’s life in the future. Rules are put in place to save lives. Lawsuits may help to curve the negligent behavior of corporations.

The questions online are endless, but I hope this helps bring a little clarity to some of the questions that are swirling out there. My deepest condolences and sympathy to all the family, friends, and fans of those who lost their lives in this tragic crash.


If you or anyone you know needs an attorney for civil, business, or personal injury in Maryland or Washington, DC don’t wait to get the help you need. Contact the GDH Law Firm where our attorneys will work to get you the help you need. GDH Law has its main office in Lanham, Maryland which is located in Prince George’s County, MD.

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