Judge first gives his okay to $1 billion deal in Florida condo collapse that kills 98 – Boston News, Weather, Sports

A Florida judge granted initial approval on Saturday Settling more than $1 billion to families who lost loved ones when a residential building collapsed on a beach in Florida last year, killing 98 people.

The speedy resolution of the unprecedented collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building in the early hours of June 24, 2021 means potentially years of court battles will be avoided.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who oversees lawsuits filed after the collapse, said during a hearing held remotely it was the best possible outcome given the loss of life and property in the disaster.

“This is a great result,” Hanzman said before provisionally approving the agreement announced Friday. “It was a very competitive deal.”

Rachel Furst, co-chair of the attorney group representing victims’ families, said the agreement also means defendants — insurance companies, developers, the city of Surfside and others — will have “complete peace of mind” that they won’t be sued again. Still, some people might decide to back out of the deal and make their own independent claims.

“That was negotiated intensively,” said Furst. “We believe this is an excellent agreement.”

Under the agreement, individuals directly involved in the settlement have until June 16 to submit a notice that they intend to opt out. A week later, on June 23, Judge Hanzman will hold a fairness hearing so anyone who objects to the settlement can be heard.

Attorney Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver in the case for the judge, said the notice would be sent to all family members of the deceased and was posted at Champlain Towers South website and is also placed in the Miami Herald.

“We’ll start right away,” Goldberg said.

The total for the families who lost loved ones in the collapse is approximately $1.02 billion. Separately, people whose condos were destroyed and lost property such as home furnishings and memorabilia share approximately $96 million.

Victims’ families have to make claims as the money is not shared equally. The goal is to start distributing money by September.

The money comes from multiple sources, including insurance companies, engineering firms, and a luxury condo recently built next door. Neither party admits any wrongdoing. A multi-billion dollar developer from Dubai will buy the 1.8 hectare beachfront property for US$120 million, contributing to the settlement.

Only three survivors were found despite round-the-clock rescue workers digging through a 12-metre-tall pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were able to do this Escape from the part of the building that remained standing. All 135 units were eventually demolished, leaving a gaping hole on Surfside Beach.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is Investigating the cause of the collapse, a process that is expected to take years. Champlain 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.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed, or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/judge-gives-initial-ok-to-1b-deal-in-florida-condo-collapse-that-killed-98/ Judge first gives his okay to $1 billion deal in Florida condo collapse that kills 98 – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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