MIAMI – Families of the victims of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, which killed 98 people last year, have reached a settlement of $ 997 million to compensate them for their staggering loss of life and property.
The settlement, which was revealed at a court hearing on Wednesday and is still awaiting final approval, includes insurance companies, developers of an adjacent building and other defendants in the extensive civil case. It comes six weeks before the one-year anniversary of the June 24 tragedy.
“I’m shocked by this result ̵[ads1]1; I think it’s amazing,” said Judge Michael A. Hanzman at the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. “This is an improvement that is far above what I expected.”
Prior to Wednesday’s surprise announcement, the judge had approved a far smaller settlement of $ 83 million to be shared between apartment owners for their property loss. No compensation was set for the families of the dead, which led to friction and crude, emotional explanations of court witnesses during a hearing in March where those who lost their homes were set up against those who lost their loved ones.
The settlement grew exponentially after the developers of the adjacent luxury building, Eighty Seven Park, and a number of contractors and consultants who had been sued or investigated by the survivors ‘and victims’ lawyers, signed up. The plaintiffs had claimed that construction work at Eighty Seven Park damaged Champlain Towers South – an allegation denied by Eighty Seven Park’s developers and contractors.
The lawyers said that the settlement could be extended further, to more than 1 billion dollars, if they reach an agreement with a remaining company. Among the companies that agreed to settle is the engineers who had inspected and begun work to resolve serious structural defects in Champlain Towers South before the collapse.
Judge Hanzman, who has maintained an aggressive schedule throughout the case, said he wants to complete the settlement before June 24 and compensate the survivors ‘and victims’ families by the fall.