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Court Dismiss Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Well Know Miami Billionaire

August 26, 2014 - On Monday, Miami’s 11th Circuit Court judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit for a lack of evidence over a helicopter crash back in 2012. The lawsuit had been filed against Jeffrey Soffer and others. 

Soffer, is a well know billionaire, owner of “Turnberry” Associates which owns the Aventura Mall, Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach, Fontainebleau Aviation, etc. Turnberry has been publicized as one of America’s premier real estate development and property management companies. 

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, a Bahamian registered (C6-APV) Aerospatiale AS 355F1 helicopter (registered to Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Ltd.) departed Marsh Harbor International Airport, Bahamas for Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club, Great Guana Cay, Bahamas. 


At or about 1:30 PM, while on approach for landing, the helicopter crashed. The pilot, David Pearce and three passengers (Jeffrey Soffer, Paula Riordan, Daniel Riordan) were seriously injured, while a fourth passenger, an international tax and business attorney, Lance Valdez was killed (Bahamas Civil Aviation Department incident report). 

Valdez’s mother, Daria Pastouhkova Gogoleva who resides in Nassau, Bahamas, filed a wrongful death lawsuit. In her lawsuit she alleged that David Pearce, the licensed helicopter pilot wasn't flying the helicopter at the time of the crash and that Soffer was at the controls at the time of the crash. Although Soffer is a certified pilot to fly aircraft he was not certified by the FAA to fly a helicopter. 

Pastouhkova alleges that on that Thanksgiving Day, the pilot (David Pearce) flew to Marsh Harbor airport in the Bahamas with Lance Valdez, they landed and Soffer and the Riordan’s boarded the Aerospatiale Twin Star helicopter and that the pilot was informed by Valdez that Soffer wanted to pilot and fly the helicopter from Marsh Harbor to Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club on Great Guana Cay in the Abacos Island, Bahamas. It is also alleged Pearce believed that Soffer was a licensed and experienced helicopter pilot.



In court documents, Pastouhkova alleges Soffer and his company tried to get her to sign a General Release that would exonerate Soffer and others from any liability of the death of Lance Valdez in connection the helicopter crash. She further stated Soffer and others conspired to conceal from her that David Pearce was not flying the helicopter at the time of the helicopter crash. Pastouhkova alleged she was offered $2 million in insurance proceeds from insurance maintained on the helicopter and to withhold from any civil or other action against Soifer. 

Soffer’s attorney, Bob Martinez said “We are very pleased by the court's decision to dismiss the case. As we have said from the outset, this was a frivolous case filled with baseless accusations intended solely to generate headlines.”
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