March 30 settlement hearing set in Florida condo collapse
A March 30 hearing has been set on a proposed $83 million lawsuit settlement for people who lost property and belongings in the collapse of a Florida beachfront condominium building that killed 98 people.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said Wednesday that he would consider any objections to the proposal before deciding whether to give it final approval. Hanzman did say, however, that the settlement could achieve “an excellent result” in the Champlain Towers South case.
“It would be nice to do it all at one time,” said Harley Tropin, one of the lawyers for victims in the case.
A preliminary order by the judge says that each unit owner will be paid a share based on their ownership portion of a condominium unit and for personal items that were lost. The money comes from insurance and from the sale of the beachfront property in Surfside, Florida. There were 136 units in the building.
Objections in writing are to be filed by March 23.
The proposed settlement does not include money for wrongful death claims arising from the 98 people who died in the June 24 collapse of the 12-story building. Lawyers in the case are now looking for an expert to handle how to value each of those claims, which will be addressed separately.
“My feeling is this process needs to get started sooner rather than later,” Hanzman said. “I want this process up in the next couple of weeks.”
The lawsuit stemming from the Champlain Towers South collapse contends that work on an adjacent luxury condo building, known as Eighty Seven Park, damaged and destabilized an aging Champlain Towers building already in dire need of major structural repair. The defendants associated with Eighty Seven Park deny any negligence or wrongdoing.
The Surfside site where the building once stood will be put up for auction at the end of April, attorneys said. One offer for about $120 million has been on the table for months, but there may be others as the auction approaches.
“We continue to get get great interest in the property,” said Michael Goldberg, a lawyer appointed by Hanzman as the receiver in the case.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is the main agency handling the investigation into the collapse, which officials have said would take two or more years.