Miami condo collapse: victims and families to receive $1.02bn settlement | Miami condo collapse

A judge has given final approval to a settlement exceeding $1 billion for victims of a Florida beachfront condo building collapse that killed 98 people, one of the deadliest construction failures of United States history.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman’s decision came a day before the one-year anniversary of the Champlain Towers South disaster in the Miami suburb of Surfside. The judge praised the dozens of attorneys involved for avoiding what could have been years of litigation with no certain outcome.

“It will never be enough to compensate them for the tragic loss they have suffered,” the judge said. “This settlement is the best we can do. It is a remarkable result. It’s extraordinary.

Most of the $1.02 billion total will go to people who lost family members in the collapse of the 12-story building. About $100 million is earmarked for legal fees and $96 million is earmarked for owners who lost one of the building’s 136 units.

No victim has filed an objection to the settlement or opted out, said court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg. Several people who lost family members or property said in court Thursday they were grateful for such a quick conclusion to a horrific experience.

Raysa Rodriguez, who survived the collapse of a ninth-floor unit originally left intact, had nothing but praise for the outcome.

“You have no idea what a relief that is to me personally,” Rodriguez said. “I am so exhausted. I just want it done. I want these souls to rest.

The decision was made during what’s called an equity hearing, where anyone with objections to the deal could raise them when the judge determined whether the settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.” “, according to court documents.

The money comes from several sources, including insurance companies, engineering firms and a luxury condominium whose recent construction next door is suspected of having contributed to the structural damage of the South Champlain Towers. Neither party admits wrongdoing.

A billionaire Dubai developer is set to buy the 1.8 acre (1 hectare) beachfront site for $120 million, helping with the settlement.

Champlain Towers South had a long history of maintenance issues and questions were raised about the quality of its original construction and inspections in the early 1980s. Other possible factors include the rise in the level of the sea ​​caused by climate change and damage from salt water intrusion.

A final conclusion on the cause is likely years away. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is leading the federal investigation into the collapse, recently said invasive testing would soon begin on samples of material from the site of the collapse.

The tests will help investigators find potential flaws in the building’s structural elements by looking at things like material density, porosity and whether there was corrosion, Nist said.

Florida will require statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories under new legislation that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month in response to the disaster.

The death toll in the collapse of the Champlain Towers ranks among the highest in US history among similar disasters. The Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in 1981 killed 114 people, and a Massachusetts factory disaster in 1860 killed between 88 and 145 workers.

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