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Florida Condo Collapse Results in More Than 1B Settlement Agreement

— May 27, 2022

A tentative settlement was just announced over last year’s Surfside condo collapse.

Attorneys representing the families of those who died in the last year’s collapse of a Florida condominium tower, which killed 98 people, struck a $1.02 billion settlement on Friday, bringing a quick end to cases that may have drawn on for years.

Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

It’s important to note that Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman must first approve the settlement agreement to conclude the lawsuit over the Champlain Towers South disaster.

Lawyers previously revealed in court that the families of those who were killed or injured in the fall of the 12-story skyscraper in Surfside would share about $1 billion, and parties on both sides of the litigation submitted a motion Friday committing to a $1.02 billion settlement fund. In addition, people who lost property in the collapse will share approximately $100 million. Families of victims will have to file claims, as the money will not be split evenly. The goal is to begin distributing money by September.

The funds come from a variety of sources, including insurance companies, engineering firms, and a newly constructed luxury condominium next door. The 1.8-acre beachfront plot will be purchased for $120 million by a billionaire developer from Dubai, adding to the settlement.

The attorney costs will be determined by the judge, although they are expected to be a fraction of what third-party lawyers often receive. Cases like this normally go on for years, much less go to trial.

Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants described the Surfside collapse as a “‘black swan’ event that devastated this community” in their motion for preliminary approval of the class-action settlement. They also added that they were “proud to have met the Court’s challenge to provide relief to the class of victims before the one-year anniversary of the collapse.”

For those who don’t know, the majority of Champlain Towers South collapsed unexpectedly at 1:20 a.m. on June 24, while most of its tenants were sleeping. When the building collapsed, only three people were left alive.

Despite rescuers working around the clock for two weeks digging through a 40-foot high pile of wreckage, no additional survivors were discovered. Another three dozen persons were able to flee from the building’s still-standing part. The 135 flats were eventually demolished, leaving a gaping crater along the beachfront of Surfside.

The cause of the collapse is being investigated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and is expected to take years. Champlain South has a lengthy history of maintenance issues, and questions have been raised concerning the original building quality and inspections in the 1980s.

The collapse prompted greater attention to high-rise safety across the state, particularly in coastal locations. Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward counties were the only ones of Florida’s 67 counties at the time that required buildings to be recertified every 40 years.

However, new legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week in a special session of the Legislature will require those certifications statewide and far earlier in the life of the structure.


Florida condo collapse settlement reached, tops $1 billion

Surfside condo collapse victims reach $997 million settlement

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