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Lawyers: Nearly $1B tentative settlement in condo collapse

By Via AP news wire
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A nearly $1 billion tentative settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of last June's condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, an attorney said Wednesday.

Harley S. Tropin announced the $997 million settlement during a hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman. Still pending final approval, the settlement involves insurance companies, developers of an adjacent building and other defendants.

“I’m shocked by this result — I think it’s fantastic,” Hanzman said. “This is a recovery that is far in excess of what I had anticipated.”

Earlier this year, Hanzman had approved an $83 million settlement to compensate people who suffered economic losses such as condominium units and personal property. A key question from the beginning has been how to allocate money from the property’s sale, insurance proceeds and damages from lawsuits among wrongful death cases and property claims.

The 12-story Champlain Towers South condiminium collapsed abruptly in the early-morning hours of June 24, almost instantly destroying dozens of individual condo units and burying victims under tons of rubble. Rescuers spent weeks carefully digging through mountains of concrete, first to find survivors and later to recover the remains of those who died. A total of 98 people were killed.

The main lawsuit, filed on behalf of Champlain Towers South victims and family members, contends that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized the Champlain Towers building, which was in dire need of major structural repair. Champlain Towers was in the midst of its 40-year structural review when it partially crumbled to the ground.

Video released by a team of federal investigators showed evidence of extensive corrosion and overcrowded concrete reinforcement in the building.

The collapse triggered lawsuits from victims, families and condo owners, and prompted state and federal investigations. In December, a Florida grand jury issued a lengthy list of recommendations aimed at preventing another condominium collapse, including earlier and more frequent inspections and better waterproofing.

And in February of this year, the Florida House unanimously passed a bill that would require statewide recertification of any condo building above three stories high. The bill would require recertification after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter.

At the time of the collapse, Miami-Dade and Broward were the only two of the state’s 67 counties that had condominium recertification programs.

Champlain Towers was located in Surfside, a town just north of Miami Beach. The little-known enclave comprises a mix of older homes and condos similar to the collapsed tower, built decades ago for the middle-class, and recently erected luxury condos drawing the wealthy. That includes former first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who live about a block north of the collapsed condo.

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Dive Deeper:
A nearly $1 billion settlement is reached in a Surfside condo collapse lawsuit
A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of last June's condominium…
Florida Condo Collapse Lawsuit Settled For Nearly $1B: Report
A class action lawsuit brought by the families of the victims and survivors of last June’s condominium collapse in Surfside,…
Victims of Florida condo collapse reach $997 mn settlement
Miami (AFP) - Survivors and families of people who died in last year's collapse of a beachfront condo building near…
Victims of collapsed Surfside condo reach $997m settlement over disaster
The 12-storey residential building north of Miami partially collapsed on 24 June 2021
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Billion-dollar settlement reached over collapse of Florida apartment block
A tentative near billion-dollar settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of…
Lawyers in suit over Surfside collapse reveal staggering legal settlement: $997 million
MIAMI — In a surprise development, the class-action litigation over the collapse of Champlain Towers South has been settled, a…
Get all your news in one place