A lawsuit brought against the billionaire husband of Elle Macpherson has alleged the supermodel attempted to persuade a grieving widow to release the real estate magnate from liability for a deadly helicopter crash.
According to a copy of the $100million lawsuit filed at Miami Federal District Court and published on the New York Post's website, Ms Macpherson allegedly urged the widow of attorney Lance Valdez, Daria Valdez, to take a payout.
The lawsuit alleges Ms Macpherson's husband, Jeffrey Soffer, was flying the helicopter despite not having a license when it crashed in the Bahamas in November 2012. A licensed pilot was on board the aircraft but not at the controls, it was claimed. Mr Soffer, who owns Miami's Fontainebleau Hotel, and four others survived the crash while Mr Valdez, 48, was killed. Ms Macpherson was not involved.
Co-defendants Daniel and Paula Riordan, as well as Alex Krys, were on board helicopter, the lawsuit said, and conspired with Mr Soffer and the pilot to conceal who was in control.
The lawsuit reportedly claimed a $2million release from the helicopter insurers was secured, but in order to access the money Mrs Valdez would have to sign an agreement that would have released the insurance carrier “and the other passengers of the helicopter”, which included Mr Soffer, who could have been held personally liable for damages.
It stated: “Soffer induced his then girlfriend and now wife, Elle Macpherson [also a friend of Daria's] to call Charles Holzer, another close family friend of both Lance and Daria, and told him that Soffer was annoyed about Daria's delay in signing the release, telling Holzer that 'Soffer doesn't have to do this you know'.”
Mr Soffer's lawyer, Bob Martinez, told the Associated Press in an email statement the lawsuit had no merit. “Mr Soffer denies all the allegations of wrongdoing contained in the complaint,” the statement said. It added he was very sympathetic to the widow and the children “for their grave loss” and he “still mourns deeply the death of his good friend Lance Valdez”.
Shortly before Jeffrey Soffer's alleged crash in the Bahamas, the lawsuit says he flew over a golf course “and pointed out his house and yacht” before encountered turbulence.