Florida Condo Collapse Scheme Reaches, Surpasses $1 Billion

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Lawyers for the families who lost relatives in a Florida apartment building collapse last year that killed 98 people reached a $1.02 billion settlement Friday, offering a quick solution to lawsuits that could have dragged on for years.

The deal to end the lawsuits over the Champlain Towers South tragedy is awaiting approval from Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, but that should only be a formality.

Lawyers had previously announced in court a preliminary agreement that nearly $1 billion would be divided between the families whose relatives were killed or injured in the collapse of the 12-story Surfside tower, and parties on both sides of the lawsuit. filed a motion Friday to seek a $1.02 billion settlement fund. In addition, nearly $100 million will be distributed to those who lost their property in the collapse.

Families of victims will have to file claims because the money is not distributed fairly. The goal is to start distributing money in September.

The money comes from a variety of sources, including insurance companies, tech companies, and a luxury condominium that was recently built next door. Neither party admits to having committed an error. A Dubai billionaire developer plans to purchase the 1-acre (1 hectare) beachfront property for $120 million, contributing to the settlement.

The judge will determine the attorney’s fees, but it is expected to be a fraction of the third attorney who would normally earn. In such cases, it typically takes three years or more to reach a settlement, let alone go to court.

In their motion for “preliminary approval of class action settlement,” plaintiffs’ attorneys and defendants described the Surfside collapse as a “black swan event that devastated this community,” saying they were “proud of this Court’s challenge to provide relief.” to the class of victims before the one-year anniversary of the collapse.”

Most of Champlain Towers South suddenly collapsed around 1:20 a.m. on June 24 while most residents were asleep. Only three people survived the initial collapse.

No other survivors were found, despite the 24-hour efforts of rescuers who dug through a 40-foot (12-meter) pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were able to escape from the part of the building that was still standing. All 135 units were eventually scrapped, leaving a gaping hole along Surfside beach.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process expected to take years. Champlain South had a long history of maintenance problems and questions were raised about the quality of the original construction and inspections in the early 1980s.

The collapse drew new research into the safety of high-rise buildings statewide, especially in vulnerable coastal areas. At the time, Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward counties were the only ones of Florida’s 67 counties that needed buildings to recertify their safety after 40 years.

New legislation passed by the legislature at a special session this week and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis will require these statewide certifications, significantly earlier in the building’s lifespan.

Recertification is required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and the condominium association was struggling with compliance at the time of the collapse.

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