Widow Resites/default/files Suit in Helicopter Crash
The widow of a prominent tax attorney refiled a $100 million lawsuit against a Florida billionaire regarding the 2012 helicopter crash that killed her husband. Lance Valdez was killed in Great Guana Cay when the helicopter he was in, piloted by Jeffrey Soffer, crashed. Originally, a lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Soffer was piloting the helicopter when it crashed, but that suit was withdrawn on December 9. On Friday, January 10, 2014, the suit was filed again in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
According to reports, Soffer--who owns the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, and is married to supermodel Elle Macpherson--was aboard the helicopter on November 22, 2012, as it attempted to land. The aircraft was buffeted by a wind gust at Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club in the Bahamas, causing the pilot to lose control. The flight was arranged by Valdez, a wealthy tax attorney, in order to transport the group of friends to an exclusive island resort. He also hired professional pilot, David Pearce, who told officials he was piloting the helicopter at the time of the crash.
The lawsuit alleges that Pearce was not piloting the helicopter, but that it was actually Soffer--who holds a license to fly fixed-wing aircraft, but is not licensed for helicopters. In addition, the suit states that Soffer conspired with other passengers to conceal the fact that he was flying. The other passengers were Daniel Riordan, an executive at Turnberry (a company owned by Soffer's family), and his wife, Paula. Lawyers also claim that Soffer "induced" Valdez's widow, Daria Gogoleva, to accept a payout of $2 million in order to avoid his personal liability in the crash.
Lawyers for the wealthy real estate mogul say that there is no merit to the suit, and that Soffer was not piloting the helicopter at the time of the crash. Soffer emphatically denies he was flying the helicopter, and the pilot has never said that anyone other than himself was in control of the aircraft. In addition, Soffer and the Riordans signed over their insurance claims to Gogoleva, awarding her the $2 million in an insurance settlement, and that he did not induce her to accept those payments.
When the negligence of another person is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in an accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else's negligence.