The family of Ara Zobayan, the pilot of Kobe Bryant's helicopter that crashed on Jan. 26, is looking to get the wrongful death trial out of Los Angles. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Zobayan's family is claiming if the trail stays in L.A., it will start with "two strikes" against him because of the "extreme level of popularity of the plaintiff with the jury pool." Bryant's widow Vanessa filed the lawsuit against Zobayan along with Island Express Helicopters, claiming they should be responsible for the crash that killed Bryant, their daughter Gianna and six other passengers.
"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," Zobayan's family says in new court docs. "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. "But with that unprecedented level of acclaim comes a lack of impartiality and objectivity by potential jurors about the merits under the law of the claims asserted in this lawsuit by the Bryant family."
Earlier in the month, the lawyers for Zobayan's estate claimed the jurors would be biased based on Bryant's status in the community. "Defendant Zobayan intends to file a motion to transfer venue to a county outside Los Angeles county on the grounds that an impartial jury cannot be empaneled in Los Angeles Superior Court in this matter," the court documents stated. Vanessa is the only person who is suing Zobayan. The families of the other victims involved are suing the helicopter company.
Bryant was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years and helped the team win five NBA championships in a 10-year span. He was recently elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but the ceremony has been delayed due to the COVD-19 pandemic. On Sunday, Vanessa paid tribute to her husband with an emotional message. "Happy Father's Day to the BEST daddy in the world," Vanessa wrote on Instagram. We miss you so much. We love you forever and always. Love Nani, Gigi, BB Kob and VB."