Over 150 people in the building remain unaccounted for.
A resident of Chaplain Towers South, the Florida residential high-rise that collapsed earlier this week, filed a prospective class action lawsuit less than a day after the disaster occurred.
According to NBC News, the complaint was filed by Manuel Drezner in a Miami-Dade County court just before 11:30pm on Thursday. In his court filings, Drezner and his attorney say the class action intends to “compensate the victims of this unfathomable loss.”
The lawsuit, notes NBC, relates to the collapse of a building in Surfside Florida, near Miami Beach.
The high-rise, residential condominium building collapsed at approximately 1:30am on Thursday. Of the tower’s 136 units, an estimated 55—all located in the northeast corridor—disappeared within seconds.
While official figures list only four dead and 11 injured, at least 159 people remain unaccounted for—likely dead, or possibly trapped beneath the rubble.
Drezner’s lawsuit says that the Chaplain Towers South Condominium Association Inc. “failed to adequately secure the building, placing the lives and property of its occupants and visitors […] at risk resulting in the collapse of the building.”
“”At all relevant times, defendant was aware, or reasonably should have been aware that the plaintiff’s and the class’s lives and property were at risk due to the lack of precautions taken at Champlain Towers South,” the lawsuit states.
NBC News reports that, even though officials have yet to determine the cause of the collapse, the lawsuit asserts that class members will retain the right to amend their filing as more information becomes known, both about the disaster’s source and its number of victims.
For now, the lawsuit broadly alleges that the Chaplain Towers South Condominium Association had an agreement with the building owners, which said the “association shall maintain, repair and replace at the association’s own expense […] all portions of the units […] contributing to the support of the building, which portions should include but not limited to, the outside of the building and load bearing columns.”
The lawsuit claims that the agreement was “clearly” breached the Association.
“According to public statements made by Defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, ‘repair needs had been identified’ with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed,” the lawsuit says.
However, Direktor—who continues to represent the Chaplain Towers South Condominium Association—said his client had done nothing wrong.
“I don’t know what caused this building to fall down, you don’t know what caused this building to fall down, government officials do not know what caused this building to fall down, the engineers don’t know what caused this building to fall down,” Direktor said. “Please, explain to me how this lawyer knows what caused this building to fall down.”
The class action, adds WPTV.com, is seeking restitution, recovery of damages, and attorneys fees.