Soffer will have to fend of a wrongful death suit after the widow of the crash victim claimed that the Fontainbleau Hotel owner was at the controls of the chopper without having a valid license.
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Jeffrey Soffer with his wife supermodel Elle Macpherson
Jeffrey Soffer, whose property assets include the famous Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida as well as a major share of the Turnberry Associates real estate empire, is liable to be finding himself in court in Miami in the very near future.
The Miami Federal Court are apparently pursuing a $100 million suit against Soffer, claiming that he caused the wrongful death of his close friend, Lance Valdez in the helicopter accident that took place close to Great Guana Cay, in the Bahamas in November 2012.
According to the lawsuit, Soffer was flying the helicopter without a valid license, despite that fact that an experienced helicopter pilot, David Pearce, was on board.
At the time of the accident, Soffer was the holder of a pilot’s license, but only to fly a fixed wing aircraft, and has never been the holder of a helicopter pilot’s license in the past.
According to eyewitnesses, the helicopter was about to land when it suddenly encountered strong cross winds, which caused it to hit the runway with considerable force.
While Soffer and the four other passengers in the helicopter survived the crash with minor injuries, Valdez was killed outright.
Now Valdez’s widow, Daria Gogoleva Valdez is claiming that Soffer tried to cover up that he was at the controls of the helicopter at the time of the crash and instead David Pearce was flying.
If this were the case, Ms. Gogoleva Valdez and the couple’s three children would only be liable to receive $2 million from an insurance claim. If it is proven that Soffer was flying the helicopter, then he could be held personally responsible for all damages caused by the accident.
Initially, according to Ms. Valdez, when the news of the tragic accident was reported to her, the details she was given clearly stated that David Pearce was at the controls when the helicopter crashed.
According to details released of the forthcoming lawsuit, Ms. Gogoleva Valdez was apparently pressurized by Soffer to sign a release stating that she would not take legal action either against him or anyone else who was a passenger in the helicopter at the time of the accident.
Soffer was left with a fractured vertebrae as well as a few other minor injuries.
Jeffrey Soffer is an American real estate developer who with his partners has succeeded in developing 20 million square feet of retail space, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 2000 hotel rooms and more than 7000 condos, with the Turnberry company believed to be responsible for the development of more than $7 billion worth of property worldwide.
Soffer married international supermodel Elle Macpherson at the Laucala Resort in Fiji in July 2013.