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Reports: Brother of pilot in Kobe Bryant crash says passengers knew risks

It's a response to a lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow and the mother of Gianna Bryant who was also killed along with seven others.
FILE: An NTSB investigator works at the site of a helicopter crash in California, which killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. (NTSB)

LOS ANGELES (WUSA) - The brother of the pilot of the helicopter that crashed, killing Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others says the passengers were aware of the risks.

That's according to multiple reports citing court papers in response to a wrongful death lawsuit.

The response was in a 7-page document filed by attorneys for Berge Zobayan. He's the brother of pilot Ara Zobayan.

Vanessa Bryant, who filed the suit the same day as her husband's large public memorial service in February, alleged that Zobayan was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the Jan. 26 flight. Families of four other passengers killed in the crash have since joined the suit.

Berge's attorneys dispute the claim.

“Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved,” the filing states according to the L.A. Times, CNN, Entertainment Tonight and others.

In legal terms, a decedent is someone who has died. In this case, those on board the helicopter.

Kobe, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were heading to a basketball tournament when the chopper crashed in thick fog northwest of Los Angeles. Also killed were John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Zobayan.

An initial National Transportation Safety Board report said there were no signs of engine failure from the wreckage recovered. Zobayan had nearly navigated the helicopter out of blinding clouds when the aircraft suddenly turned and plunged into the mountainside.

The lawsuit also names Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the Sikorsky, and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp. Island Express has not filed a response, according to the L.A. Times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.