Next Florida suit says building next to collapsed condo could be responsible.
Champlain Towers South, a Miami, Florida condo complex, suddenly collapsed with many of the residents inside. Some made it out, while others lost their lives in the tragedy. For some time, there has been an investigation into the cause of the collapse, which has mainly led to findings of structural damage and repair ‘suggestions’ that residents never followed through on. The incident has also led to a number of federal and state investigations and many lawsuits by victims, families and condo owners.
Now, a new lawsuit filed this month contends that the construction of a luxury building, Eighty Seven Park, next to the condo site ultimately caused the failure of the already structurally compromised building, killing nearly 100 people in June. The new construction allegedly destabilized the old one. The complaint could be a potential class action case representing all victims and their families. It has been filed as part of an existing case in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.
The lead investigating agency is the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which indicated that answers could take years. Raysa Rodriguez, a resident who was lucky enough to make it out alive, previously filed suit against the association.
“I want the people to grieve, but a lawsuit needs to be filed that’s why we filed it,” said Adam Moskowitz, who represents her.
“The first thing that they want to know is why did this happen and how do we prevent it from happening again,” said attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, who represents the family of Harry Rosenberg, another Champlain Towers resident, still missing. “The families have not had a voice or set of eyes in that process at all.”
Champlain Towers had been in the middle of a four-decade structural integrity review when the tragedy happened. The latest Champlain Towers lawsuit claims it “was an older building in need of routine repairs and maintenance, but it was not until excavation and construction began on the luxury high-rise condominium project next door” that the building became unsafe. The collapse was entirely preventable.”
The latest lawsuit contends that “excavation, pile-driving and other work” at Eighty Seven Park in the three-year span between 2016 and 2019 caused issues that weakened the already damaged structure. In addition, “groundwater was funneled from the new building to the Champlain Towers basement after developers bought a small road separating the two,” the lawsuit says.
“We believe firmly in the allegations that we’ve made in our complaint, and we look forward to prosecuting this case on behalf of our clients,” attorney Rachel Furst said. The suit names nine defendants including developers of Eighty Seven Park, an engineering firm, the Champlain Towers South condo association and a Miami law firm, among others.
“As numerous media reports have documented, Champlain Towers South was improperly designed, poorly constructed, significantly underfunded and inadequately maintained and repaired,” responded attorney David B. Weinstein, who represents the developers of Eighty Seven Park, 8701 Collins Development LLC. “We expect a full review of the facts, and the ongoing investigation by NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology], will affirm our position.”