Judge: Surfside collapse property owners bumped up to $96M

May 24, 2022, 9:14 AM | Updated: 1:45 pm
Christopher Rosa Cruz installs a large banner at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium...

Christopher Rosa Cruz installs a large banner at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Surfside, Fla. The banner lists the names of the 98 people killed when the building suddenly collapse nearly a year ago. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Homeowners with condos in the Florida building that collapsed and killed 98 people nearly a year ago but whose families suffered no loss of life will share at least $96 million from a court settlement, a judge said Tuesday.

That is in addition to the payout of about $1 billion to be shared by families of the victims of the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. Additional fees for lawyers will be settled later.

The initial amount for property owners was previously set at $83 million, but Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman in Miami agreed at a hearing Tuesday that the higher amount was proper for 136 condo owners in the 12-story building.

“What I care about now is finishing this case and getting money into the hands of victims,” Hanzman said, noting that under Florida law, the condo owners could have been assessed a lot of money to pay for the loss of the building.

“This is an outstanding result for the property owners,” the judge said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Tallahassee introduced legislation Tuesday in response to the tragedy that would tighten building safety rules by requiring all condominiums higher than three stories statewide to have periodic inspections of their structural integrity. The issue was added to a special Legislative session called to address rising property insurance rates.

Legislative leaders were in agreement over requiring inspections and recertification of the buildings after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter.

When the Champlain Towers South collapse last June, it was 40 years old and undergoing what was then a 40-year-recertification process required by Miami-Dade County.

The exact details of the lawsuit settlement over loss of life are to be done by Friday, followed by a hearing for any objections. A billionaire developer from Dubai is set to purchase the 1.8-acre (1-hectare) beachside site for $120 million.

An auction for the property initially was set for Tuesday, but no other parties countered the bid by Hussain Sajwani, of DAMAC Properties, before a deadline last Friday.

Attorney Harley Tropin, who represents plaintiffs in the case, said the final settlement for deaths in the condo building’s collapse has grown to more than $1 billion, an increase from the $997 million announced in court earlier.

The money comes from several sources, ranging from insurance companies to engineering companies to the luxury condominium next door that was part of the lawsuit. None of the parties are admitting wrongdoing. The details on who is paying exactly what into the settlements have yet to be determined.

The twin settlements are still in the works but Hanzman said the case should be settled by September, so that victim families and property owners know what to expect. This would still be an unusually quick settlement for a case of this magnitude, lawyers said.

“One of the benefits of a settlement is finality,” the judge said.

Most of the building collapsed suddenly around 1:20 a.m. last June 24 as most of its residents slept. Only three people survived the initial collapse.

No other survivors were found despite the around-the-clock efforts of rescuers who dug through a 40-foot (12-meter) pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were in the portion of the building that remained standing, but was ultimately demolished.

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

In the court case, Judge Hanzman set a noon Friday deadline for a final settlement agreement to be filed. If that does not happen, the judge said he would hold a full hearing on why a final deal has not been reached.

“At some point, this plane has to come in for a landing,” Hanzman said.

The collapse drew new scrutiny to high-rise safety statewide, especially in vulnerable coastal areas. At the time, Miami Dade and neighboring Broward counties were the only ones of Florida’s 67 counties with a building recertification process. The new legislation would broaden those certifications statewide, as well as require them significantly earlier in the building’s lifespan.

Earlier legislation proposing a statewide inspection and recertification regimen failed during the regular legislative session that ended in March.

The new measure would require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.

___

Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dead fish lie on the banks of the German-Polish border river Oder in Lebus, eastern Germanny, Satur...
Associated Press

What killed tons of fish in European river? Mystery deepens

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Laboratory tests following a mass die-off of fish in the Oder River detected high levels of salinity but no mercury poisoning its waters, Poland’s environment minister said Saturday as the mystery continued as to what killed tons of fish in Central Europe. Anna Moskwa, the minister of climate and environment, said […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks before President Joe Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bipa...
Associated Press

Sinema took Wall Street money while killing tax on investors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise […]
11 hours ago
Employees stand around the turbine serviced in Canada for the Nordstream 1 natural gas pipeline in ...
Associated Press

Germans urged to cap heat in offices this winter to save gas

BERLIN (AP) — German businesses and public institutions should heat their offices no higher than 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit) this winter to help reduce the country’s consumption of natural gas, Germany’s economy minister said Saturday. Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, is quickly trying to wean itself off using natural gas from Russia […]
11 hours ago
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, left, and his wife, Jamie, greet passing cars while campaigning in Hono...
Associated Press

Hawaii voters picking nominees in race to succeed Gov. Ige

HONOLULU (AP) — The candidates running in Saturday’s primary election to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. David Ige include a former first lady, a retired mixed martial arts champion and a congressman who moonlights as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot. Democratic U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele’s decision to run for governor has opened up his congressional seat representing […]
11 hours ago
A prototype trash can called Salt and Pepper is seen near the Embarcadero in San Francisco on July ...
Associated Press

What takes years and costs $20K? A San Francisco trash can

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What takes four years to make and costs more than $20,000? A trash can in San Francisco. That costly, boxy bin is among six trash cans hitting San Francisco’s streets this summer in the city’s long saga in search of the perfect can. Overflowing trash cans are a common sight in […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Officers in Texas fatally shoot man with rifle

RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (AP) — Police in suburban Fort Worth fatally shot a man who pointed a rifle at them, authorities said. The shooting Friday in Richland Hills happened as two officers were investigating reports of gunshots along a city street. They found a man carrying a rifle about two blocks away, according to Richland […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Judge: Surfside collapse property owners bumped up to $96M