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Family of Pilot in Kobe Bryant Crash Wants Wrongful Death Case Moved from LA

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

A woman with a  face mask walks past a Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant mural on June 1, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

The family of Ara Zobayan—the pilot who died in January's helicopter crash along with Kobe and Gianna Bryant; John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser and Sarah and Payton Chester—wants to move the wrongful death lawsuit against him out of Los Angeles, per TMZ Sports.

According to court documents obtained by the website, his family has argued that "the trial would begin with 'two strikes' already against him 'due to the extreme level of popularity of plaintiff with the jury pool.'"

The lawsuit, filed by Vanessa Bryant, alleges that Zobayan and the Island Express Helicopters company should be held financially responsible for the crash.

Zobayan's family wants to see the trial moved to Orange County, saying in court documents that it feared Bryant's iconic status in Los Angeles after his 20-year career with the Lakers could result in biased jurors: 

"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. 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."

Bryant is a Lakers and NBA legend after a career that saw him win five titles. He was an 18-time All-Star, 11-time first-team All-NBA selection and the 2007-08 NBA MVP.

In a tribute during Sunday night's ESPY Awards, Snoop Dogg rapped "This is your city/ Much love for the ride."

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

From one LA legend to another, gone too soon. @SnoopDogg pays tribute to Kobe 💜🐍💛 https://t.co/9X2P1ldoQC

There's no doubting Bryant's popularity in the city. Whether that means an impartial jury will be an impossible standard to meet and the trial should be moved to Orange County remains to be decided. 

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