Real Estate News

Court allows case against developer Jeffrey Soffer to proceed

Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, at the hotel.
Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, at the hotel. THE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The Third District Court of Appeal in Florida is allowing a case against real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer and others involved in a 2012 helicopter accident in the Bahamas to proceed to trial.

The ruling was based upon an amended complaint by the plaintiff, Daria Pastouhkova Gogoleva, the widow of Lance Valdez, who was killed in the accident.

In 2014, the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit stating the claims in the complaint were not supported by the facts. The suit alleged Soffer of improperly taking the chopper’s controls at the time of the accident in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day more than three years ago.

The Turnberry Associates chairman and Fontainebleau owner had allegedly taken control mid-flight from the professional pilot, David Pearce. Soffer, along with two others aboard the helicopter, was injured in the accident. They were traveling from Marsh Harbor to Bakers Bay in the Bahamas. Soffer was also accused of blaming the crash on Pearce, who had been hired to fly the aircraft.

Valdez, a tax attorney, and Soffer were longtime friends.

“I am just happy that the appellate court carefully and thoughtfully reviewed the issues and provided my client with an opportunity for their day in court,” said Attorney Gary S. Phillips, representing Gogoleva.

Audra D.S. Burch