MIAMI — A class-action lawsuit over the partial collapse of a South Florida condominium last year has been settled, with the plaintiffs expected to receive approximately $997 million.
The Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed at about 1:22 a.m. EDT during the early morning hours of June 24, 2021, killing 98 people.
Wednesday’s settlement comes six weeks before the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the 12-story, 136-unit oceanfront building in Surfside, the Miami Herald reported.
The settlement was announced in the courtroom of Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman, the newspaper reported. It closes the litigation phase of the case; all that remains is how much each plaintiff will receive.
“We have gotten $997 million in proposed settlements before you -- and it could be a billion before the end of the week,” Harley S. Tropin, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Herald. “We will be done. The money will be distributed. These victims will get some measure of relief.”
“I’m shocked by this result -- I think it’s fantastic,” Hanzman said in court, according to The New York Times. “This is a recovery that is far in excess of what I had anticipated.”
Hanzman said he wanted the funds paid to the victims or their survivors by the fall, WFOR-TV reported.
The settlement grew after the developers of the adjacent luxury building, Eighty Seven Park, and several contractors and consultants who had been sued or investigated by the survivors’ and victims’ lawyers signed on to the class-action suit, the Times reported. The plaintiffs claimed that construction work at Eighty Seven Park damaged Champlain Towers South, according to the newspaper.
The developers and contractors have denied the accusation, the Times reported.
Hanzman originally approved an $83 million settlement in March, CNN reported. That settlement was reached between survivors, the family of the victims killed, and two defendants: Morabito Consultants, the insurers who represent the engineering firm responsible for inspecting and certifying the building’s structural integrity; and Becker & Poliakoff P.A., which represents the condo association, CNN reported.
Hanzman said Wednesday that he was happy that a settlement was reached out of court.
“The result achieved and the speed is beyond extraordinary,” Hanzman said. “When this case first came in this court I told everyone this wouldn’t be business as usual. This was a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. If we didn’t have the right people handling this case it would be a 10-year slog with tens of millions in attorneys’ fees.”
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