August 25, 2014 / 11:00 PM / in 3 years

Judge dismisses lawsuit over U.S. businessman's Bahamas copter crash

MIAMI (Reuters) - A U.S. judge dismissed a federal lawsuit on Monday that was filed against Florida businessman Jeffrey Soffer over a 2012 helicopter accident in the Bahamas that killed an American lawyer and injured four people.

Soffer, husband of supermodel Elle Macpherson and part owner of Miami Beach’s famed Fontainebleau Hotel, was on board the helicopter when it went down near an exclusive resort on Great Guana Cay in the Abacos island chain. He was among the injured.

The lawsuit, which was filed this year by the widow of Lance Valdez, the man killed in the crash, alleged Soffer had illegally taken the controls of the aircraft at the time of the accident, something the businessman repeatedly denied.

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

The lawsuit had also accused Macpherson of seeking to cover up Soffer’s role in the crash.

Witnesses said the helicopter was attempting to land when it was hit by a gust of wind that sent its rotor blades spinning into the ground near the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, a resort about 150 miles off Florida’s southeast coast.

Soffer is head of Miami-based Turnberry Associates, one of the country’s leading property firms, which also owns condominiums in Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Washington, D.C.

Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Peter Cooney

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