The family of Ara Zobayan doesn’t believe that the late helicopter pilot will get a fair trial in Los Angeles and wants the Kobe Bryant wrongful-death case to be moved.
TMZ acquired court documents filed by Zobayan’s family citing the “extreme level of popularity of plaintiff with the jury pool” seeking to move the case from Los Angeles to Orange County.
Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant is suing Zobayan along with charter company Island Express Helicopters over the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, including Zobayan.
“The notoriety and popularity of the late Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles County is detailed herein and reached a level that left no person in the county unaware of his role in branding Los Angeles as his city,” new court documents filed by Zobayan's family read, per TMZ.
“No other single individual in recent memory, sports figure or otherwise, has been considered by the people to be such a personification of their city of Los Angeles.”
Zobayan’s unnamed successor “Doe 1” is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Lawsuit: Pilot was negligent
The lawsuit alleges that Zobayan was negligent on eight different counts when piloting the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter that plunged into a Los Angeles-area hillside while flying in foggy conditions. Zobayan is accused of failure to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter, according to the Associated Press.
The documents claim that Zobayan would start a trial in Los Angeles with “two strikes” against him.
Bryant played 20 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships, earning 18 All-Star bids and an MVP award. Magic Johnson called him the greatest Laker ever. More than 90,000 fans applied for tickets to his memorial at the 20,000-seat Staples Center.
The documents filed by Zobayan’s family also cites Orange County as the residence of all the passengers in the crash as a reason to move the case south of Los Angeles.
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