Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, is suing the owner of the helicopter that crashed last month, killing her husband and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Kobe Bryant, Gianna and seven others died when the helicopter they were in crashed in fog on January 26.
In the lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant says the pilot was negligent for flying in such poor weather.
The lawsuit was filed shortly before a memorial service held in Los Angeles.
It says that Island Express Helicopters and the pilot, Ara George Zobayan, had a “duty to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances”.
The lawsuit alleges that the pilot – who died in the crash – did not assess weather data before taking off.
It also says the pilot did not abort the flight despite the treacherous conditions.
Island Express Helicopters authorized the flight “with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions”, the complaint says.
Vanessa Bryant is seeking undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages.
The company has suspended operations.
The aircraft – a Sikorsky S-76B – went down into a hillside outside the city of Calabasas.
Conditions were foggy when the flight took off, and local police had grounded their helicopters due to the poor weather.
The pilot asked air traffic controllers for a special clearance, known as Special Visual Flight Rules, to fly in less than optimal weather, said NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy, who went to the crash scene to collect evidence.
The helicopter, she added, circled in the air for 12 minutes before being given the clearance. The pilot then asked controllers for “flight following”, an assistance given to helicopters to avoid collisions, but was told the craft was too low to be picked up by radar.
Minutes later, the pilot said he was “climbing to avoid a cloud layer”, she added. The helicopter climbed and began a left descending turn, according to radar data, before communication was lost. All those on board were killed.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were remembered in a “Celebration of Life” memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 24.
Beyoncé opened the service with her 2013 hit XO, which she said was one of Kobe Bryant’s favorite songs.
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Bryant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal were among those attending.
The Staples Center was Kobe Bryant’s home arena for much of his 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Speaking at the event, Vanessa Bryant said of her husband: “He was mine. He was my everything,” and called her daughter Gianna an “amazingly sweet and gentle soul” whose smile took up her entire face.
Island Express Helicopters was limited to operating when the pilot was able to see clearly while flying.
Never-before-seen photos and home videos of Michael Jackson with his three children have been released on Wednesday.
The moving images were shown as Prince Michael Jackson became the first member of the Jackson family to give live testimony in the wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG.
Prince Jackson narrated as the images of his father, who died in 2009 aged 50, lavishing attention on Prince, Paris and Blanket were shown to the jury by Jackson family attorney Brian Panish.
The teenager credited his father with instilling in him a desire to learn and to help others. Along with the photographs, family videos have been entered into evidence, some taken by Michael Jackson himself, as he filmed his children and asked them what they want to be when they grew up.
Speaking on the stand, Prince Jackson revealed that after telling his father he wanted to be a movie director and architect, Michael gave him tips on how he could one day make films.
Paris and Prince Michael II, or Blanket as he is more commonly known, also figure prominently in the still photo and video exhibits.
During his testimony, Prince Jackson said that his father was excited about going back on tour before his death but wanted more time to rehearse and had several tense phone conversations with promoters of his This Is It shows that often ended with the singer in tears.
Prince Jackson, 16, said his father remarked after one of the conversations, “They’re going to kill me”, but did not elaborate further.
The testimony came in a lawsuit claiming AEG negligently hired Conrad Murray, the doctor who was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.
AEG denies it hired the physician or bears any responsibility for the entertainer’s death.
Michael Jackson and his children in touching never-before-seen photos and home videos
Wearing a black suit with a dark grey tie and his long brown hair tucked behind his ears, Prince Jackson testified that he saw AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips at the family’s rented mansion in a heated conversation with Conrad Murray in the days before his father died. The teenager said Randy Phillips grabbed conrad Murray’s elbow and “looked aggressive”.
Michael Jackson wasn’t at home at the time and was probably rehearsing, Prince said.
Conrad Murray’s attorney Valerie Wass and AEG defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam later denied outside court that the meeting Prince described ever happened.
Marvin S. Putnam said Prince Jackson would be re-called to the witness stand during the defense case later in the trial. “I think as the testimony will show when he is called in our defense that’s not what happened,” Marvin S. Putnam said.
“He was a 12-year-old boy who has had to endure this great tragedy.”
For the first time, Prince Jackson publicly provided details about the day his father died. The teenager testified that he saw Dr. Conrad Murray performing CPR on his father, who was hanging halfway off a bed. It appeared Michael Jackson’s eyes were rolled up in the back of his head, Prince told jurors.
Prince Jackson’s eyes appeared red as he recalled being told by Conrad Murray at a hospital that his father was dead. The teenager said he never saw Conrad Murray’s treatments of his father.
“I was 12. To my understanding he was supposed to make sure my dad stayed healthy,” Prince Jackson testified.
Prince Jackson said none of the household staff were allowed upstairs at the mansion, and the singer kept his bedroom locked while receiving treatments from Conrad Murray.
During cross-examination, Marvin S. Putnam played a clip from a deposition of Prince Jackson in which the teen said he discovered the bedroom was locked when he and his siblings were playing hide-and-seek and couldn’t get inside.
Prince Jackson also said his father gave him and Paris a stack of $100 bills on a few occasions to give to Conrad Murray, telling him Murray wouldn’t take the money from him, and the doctor wouldn’t take the full amount from the children.
The teenager said his understanding was that the money was meant to tide Conrad Murray over until he got paid by AEG Live.
Prince Jackson’s grandmother, Katherine, 83, sat in the front row of the courtroom during his testimony.
Katherine Jackson held a tissue and removed her glasses several times.
The testimony began with the teenager showing jurors roughly 15 minutes of private family photos and home videos.
Detective Orlando Martinez, who investigated Michael Jackson’s 2005 death, has revealed that Dr. Conrad Murray was $500,000 in debt and willing to do anything to get paid while he was treating the megastar.
Orlando Martinez told jurors on Tuesday that Conrad Murray depended on the $150,000-a-month salary that he received from Michael Jackson’s concert promoter AEG Live.
Lawyers for Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine argued that AEG should have vetted Murray. AEG is defending itself from a wrongful death lawsuit that alleges the company bears responsibility for Dr. Conrad Murray allegedly giving Michael Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol.
Orlando Martinez testified that he looked into Conrad Murray’s finances searching for a financial motive for his role in Michael Jackson’s death and relied mostly on public records. The detective turned up that Conrad Murray’s Las Vegas home was in foreclosure proceedings, and the doctor faced several liens for unpaid child support and other unpaid debts.
The searches led Orlando Martinez to conclude that Conrad Murray’s financial condition was “severely distressed”.
Orlando Martinez said that led him to believe Conrad Murray’s actions were motivated by the $150,000 a month he expected to be paid by AEG.
“He may break the rules, bend the rules, do whatever he needed to do to get paid,” Orlando Martinez said.
“It might solve his money problems.”
Conrad Murray’s finances were not a factor in the criminal case that ended with his 2011 conviction for administering a fatal dose of propofol to Michael Jackson.
Orlando Martinez also showed jurors photographs the various medications officers uncovered in Michael Jackson’s bedroom, including several vials of propofol.
The paramedic who discovered Michael Jackson dead in his bedroom in june 2009 told the jury earlier Tuesday that the King of Pop appeared to have been dead at least an hour when he arrived on the scene.
Michael Jackson’s blue hands, feet and lips, and the star’s dry eyes all signaled to paramedic Richard Senneff that the singer was dead and hadn’t been breathing for a long time.
Det. Orlando Martinez said Dr. Conrad Murray was $500,000 in debt and willing to do anything to get paid while he was treating Michael Jackson
“To me, he looked like someone who was at the end stage of a long disease process,” Richard Senneff said Tuesday during his testimony in the civil case between Michael Jackson’s mother and concert giant AEG Live.
Richard Senneff also recalled how Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, was frantically trying to revive the megastar.
“He was pale, he was sweaty,” the paramedic said of Murray.
“He was very busy.”
Conrad Murray claimed he was treating Michael Jackson for dehydration and he never mentioned propofol, the hospital-grade anesthetic that killed the singer, Richard Senneff said.
He told the panel that he found an IV pole, oxygen tanks and a nightstand with several medicine bottles.
In the nearly four years since his death, nearly every aspect of Michael Jackson’s life has been explored in court proceedings, documentaries, books and news stories.
Still, the negligence case filed by his mother against AEG promises to deliver the most detailed account of the singer’s addiction struggles, including testimony from his ex-wife Debbie Rowe about treatments involving the anesthetic propofol dating back to the 1990s.
Michael Jackson died from a propofol overdose in 2009 while preparing for a series of comeback concerts at AEG’s O2 Arena in London.
Katherine Jackson contends AEG didn’t properly investigate Conrad Murray, the doctor who later administered the fatal dose. The company denies wrongdoing.
During opening statements, attorneys framed Michael Jackson’s prescription drug addiction through the prism of his superstar status.
Attorney Brian Panish, who represents Katherine Jackson, said the drug problems worsened when the pop star was under the stress of live performances.
AEG attorney Marvin S. Putnam countered that Michael Jackson’s stardom provided a cover to receive multiple, secret medical treatments, many involving propofol.
At one point in the proceedings, the harsh portrayal of Michael Jackson’s struggle with addiction, led one juror to lean forward and stare at the floor for several moments.
Katherine Jackson and two of the superstar’s children, Prince and Paris, are potential witnesses whose testimony will likely focus heavily on their grieving and losses.
On Monday, Brian Panish played a song Michael Jackson wrote for his children as a montage of photos played during opening statements. He also read a handwritten note from Michael Jackson that his mother framed and has hanging on her wall.
“The only way you can assess damages, is to know what they had,” Brian Panish said before reading the letter and playing You Are My Life.
Katherine Jackson dabbed her eyes with a tissue. On Tuesday, she left the courtroom while the paramedic described her son’s condition on the day he died.
It may be several days before jurors get another look at Michael Jackson’s softer side.
The trial will also feature testimony on Michael Jackson’s troubled finances, with debts that reached nearly $400 million by the time he died.
AEG contends the debts made him desperate to have a successful concert series.
“The private Michael Jackson was like a lot of American in the 2000s, spending a lot more than he was making,” Marvin S. Putnam told the jury after describing Michael Jackson’s lavish Neverland Ranch, his art collection and other spending.
Many other private moments from Michael Jackson’s life will be exposed as the case progresses over the next several months, with witnesses expected to testify about secret medical treatments, lavish spending and tender moments spent with his mother and children.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyer says Michael Jackson’s promoters AEG Live failed properly to vet Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of causing the megastar’s death from a drug overdose, as a wrongful death lawsuit opens.
Katherine Jackson and his three children say AEG Live should be held liable for Michael Jackson’s death in 2009.
The promoters say they did no wrong and could not have foreseen Michael Jackson’s death on the eve of his comeback tour.
Millions of dollars are at stake in the trial, which could last up to 90 days.
Brian Panish, who represents Michael Jackson’s relatives, told a court in Los Angeles that AEG Live was the only party that maintained it was unaware of the star’s addiction to prescription drugs.
“Over the years Michael’s family and people who knew him believed he had a problem with prescription medication,” Brian Panish told a jury of six men and six women.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyer says Michael Jackson’s promoters AEG Live failed properly to vet Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of causing the megastar’s death
“His stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever,” the lawyer said, adding that jurors would have to decide who was responsible for the star’s death.
But AEG Live’s lawyer Marvin Putnam said Michael Jackson’s closely guarded private life left the promoters in the dark about his drug dependence.
“The truth is, Michael Jackson fooled everyone,” Marvin Putnam said.
“He made sure that no-one, nobody, knew his deepest darkest secrets.”
The case, which is expected to focus on the last months of Michael Jackson’s life, his financial history and his overall health, could feature testimony from his children.
It is also reported that stars such as singer Diana Ross, director Spike Lee and music producer Quincy Jones may take the stand.
The trial is expected to focus on Conrad Murray, the former cardiologist who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for administering a combination of sedatives and the anaesthetic propofol that killed Jackson.
The Jackson family claims in its suit, filed in 2010, that AEG Live had not properly investigated Conrad Murray’s background before he was hired to serve as Michael Jackson’s personal physician.
Conrad Murray was to be paid $150,000 a month during the This Is It concert series, but Michael Jackson died before the tour began.
The doctor is in prison, appealing against his conviction.
AEG Live is expected to argue that Michael Jackson had selected Conrad Murray to be his personal doctor, and that Murray was not officially an AEG Live employee.
Michael Jackson’s family is expected to argue the concert promoters put pressure on Conrad Murray to get the megastar ready for the gruelling tour schedule despite the pop icon’s fragile health.
Famous members of Michael Jackson’s family, including his sister Janet, are also expected to attend the trial.
Toyota announces it has settled a wrongful death lawsuit following a fatal crash in Utah in 2010 involving sudden, unintended acceleration.
The case was brought by the family of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd, who were killed when their Toyota Camry crashed into a wall.
Toyota did not disclose the size of the settlement.
It is thought the case marks the first of hundreds of pending wrongful death and injury lawsuits.
Last month Toyota agreed to pay an estimated $1.1 billion to settle hundreds of lawsuits from other US car-owners, who were claiming economic losses because of safety changes needed for their vehicles.
Toyota announces it has settled a wrongful death lawsuit following a fatal crash in Utah in 2010 involving sudden, unintended acceleration
Since 2009, Toyota has recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide over problems with accelerator pedals becoming trapped under floor mats.
Toyota said it sympathized with anyone in an accident involving one of its vehicles, but said it stood behind the safety and integrity of its electronic throttle control system.
“We are satisfied that both parties reached a mutually acceptable agreement to settle this case,” a company statement said of the most recent agreement.
“While Toyota may decide from time to time to settle select cases, we will have a number of other opportunities to defend our product at trial in multidistrict litigation and other legal venues.
“We are confident the evidence will confirm what millions of Toyota drivers prove every day: that they can depend upon their vehicles to provide safe, reliable transportation.”