On Wednesday, a Miami-Dade Circuit judge said that victims and families affected by the collapse of the 12-storied condominium The Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida would get a compensation at least $150 million initially. The compensation will be paid to all the victims and will include visitors, tenants, and owners. There could be additional compensation awarded to them as a result of a consolidation of all the suits filed to form a single class action lawsuit filed by the families.
Judge Michael Hanzman said that the amount included $50 million as insurance payment and at least $100 million as the sum expected from the sale of the property where the building stood, a few weeks ago. He said that the rights of the victims would be protected. He also commented on the lawsuits and said that he had no doubt that “no stone will be left unturned.” Nearly one hundred people lost their lives when the condo collapsed.
Hanzman also appointed a receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg to handle the finances of the board. He said that the National Institute of Standards and Technology, (NIST), the federal agency probing the collapse, supervised the clearing of debris from the site. The rubble, considered to be key evidence, has been stored at a warehouse in Miami and the rest of the debris has been kept in vacant lots.
The attorney also said that all of it would be preserved for review by the concerned parties including experts and those who are involved in the lawsuits. He said that it might take years for the NIST to make their report public. The cause of the collapse has not as yet been determined by the authorities.
The condominium was undergoing its mandatory 40-year recertification process when it collapsed. Three years earlier, an engineering firm had pointed out serious structural issues in a report. However, not much of the concrete repairs and other required issues had been taken up before the collapse.
Judge Hanzman also heard arguments about whether the site would become; some owners wanted it to become a memorial while others wanted it rebuilt. A third group wanted a combination of the two options. The judge said that the residents and the owners would not be required to donate land for a proposed memorial and reiterated that quick compensation for the victims was essential.
|Author||IDF Spokesperson’s Unit photographer|