Judge Gives Initial OK to $1B Settlement in Florida Condo Collapse

On Saturday, a Florida judge gave his initial approval for a settlement worth more than $1Billion to the loved ones who died in the Florida condo building collapse that claimed 98 lives.

The swift settlement of the extraordinary collapse of Champlain Towers South’s 12-story building Champlain Towers South in the early morning hours on June 24, 2021 will prevent potentially long-running court battles.

Michael Hanzman of Miami-Dade Circuit, the judge overseeing lawsuits after the collapse, stated that it was the best outcome possible given the losses in property and lives.

“It is a great result,” Hanzman said before giving preliminary approval to the agreement, which was announced Friday. “This was a very contested deal.”

Rachel Furst, co-chair of the attorney group representing victim families, said the agreement also means defendants — insurance companies, developers, the city of Surfside and others — will have “complete peace” that they won’t be sued again. Some people might opt to leave the agreement and continue their independent claims.

“This was heavily negotiated,” Furst said. “We believe this is an outstanding settlement.”

The agreement stipulates that anyone involved directly in the settlement will be allowed to submit a notice of intent to withdraw from the proceedings by June 16. On June 23, Judge Hanzman, will hold a fairness hearing for anyone who objects to the settlement.

Attorney Michael Goldberg is the court-appointed receiver in this case. He said that notices will be sent to the families of the deceased, and will also be placed on the Champlain Towers South site.

“We will begin immediately,” Goldberg said.

Families who suffered the loss of loved ones are left with a total amount of $1.02 billion. People whose condos and other property were damaged or lost will receive $96 million.

Because the money won’t be divided equally, victims’ families will need to make claims. In September, the goal is for money to be distributed.

The money came from many different sources including engineering companies and an insurance company. One of the two parties is not admitting any wrongdoing. Dubai’s billionaire developer is expected to buy the 1 hectare (1 acre) site on the beach for $120million, which will contribute to the settlement.

Three survivors survived despite rescuers working around the clock for over two weeks digging through rubble 40 feet (12 meters) high. Three dozen more people managed to flee the remaining portion of the building. All 135 units were ultimately demolished, leaving a gaping hole along Surfside’s beachfront.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will be investigating the cause of collapse. It is expected that this process could take several years. Champlain South has a history of problems with maintenance. Questions have also been raised regarding the original construction of the building and the inspections that were conducted in the 1980s.


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