Victims of Florida condo collapse reach $997m settlement

Last year's Surfside condominium building collapse killed 98 people

Survivors and families of people who died in last year's collapse of a beachfront condo building near Miami in the US state of Florida have reached a settlement close to $1 billion.

“The settlement right now is $997 million. There will be approximately another $100m that we will recover for the victims,” Carlos Silva, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said on Wednesday.

Part of Champlain Towers South, a 12-storey building built in 1981 in Surfside, a town north of Miami Beach, came tumbling down on June 24, 2021, as dozens of residents slept inside.

Except for a teenager rescued hours after the tower collapsed, search crews found no survivors and soon focused on recovering human remains.

A total of 98 people died in the collapse, with the last body identified nearly a month later.

A final report on the causes of the collapse has not yet been issued, although preliminary findings showed some of the building's structure appeared to be degraded.

The settlement, announced on Wednesday in a Miami-Dade County court, resolves a class-action lawsuit against several people and entities, including the developers of a building next to Champlain Towers South.

The suit claimed that vibrations from work on the adjacent site had contributed to the condo's collapse.

Harley Tropin, another of the plaintiffs' lawyers who presented the settlement agreement in court, praised it as bringing some degree of relief for survivors and the families of those who died.

“Although no amount of money will ever be enough to compensate them, we hope the closing of the legal chapter of this catastrophe will bring the victims some measure of solace,” Mr Tropin said.

The Florida judge handling the case, Michael Hanzman, had already approved an $83m settlement last March, but that only compensated the owners of condos in the building and not families of the deceased.

Updated: May 12, 2022, 9:20 PM
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