Surfside: 997 million $ for victims of condo tower collapse

8-copropriete-condoMay 14, 2022 — On the night of June 24, 2021, a high-rise apartment building, located on the northern edge of Miami Beach, partially collapsed. This tragedy, which claimed nearly 100 victims, aroused fear and horror. The destruction of Champlain Towers South, a 12-storey tower built in 1981 and held in divided co-ownership, led to a class action lawsuit involving several defendants, including the developer and contractors of a nearby construction project. According to the plaintiffs, the construction of another condo tower in 2016 generated vibrations and contributed to the collapse of the building by destabilizing its foundations.  Other defendants included building professionals (architects and engineers) who had been hired by the co-property, as well as the town of Surfside itself.

The survivors and families of the 98 victims of the collapse of this building will share at least US$997 million in compensation, according to an agreement negotiated in Miami-Dade County Court. The claims will come from more than 10 sources, including the insurers of the security company for the building. This company, which was responsible for the building's security systems, will pay the largest share, more than $450 million. The insurers of the engineering company retained by the condominium to inspect the towers shortly before the collapse also agreed to participate in the settlement, for the sum of $ 16 million. The insurer of the Champlain Towers South condominium association also reportedly paid $50 million. Beyond these compensations, a first settlement had already been approved by the judge in charge of the case, Michael Hanzman, for a sum of $ 83 million. However, this reling only compensated the owners of apartments in the building and not the victims' relatives. 

Major repairs to the tower (nearly worth 15 million$), which had been postponed more than once by the condominium, had just begun when part of the building collapsed. Investigations are ongoing, but have raised questions about the initial construction techniques of the Champlain Towers, also water infiltrations affecting the foundations, unrepaired cracks in the concrete and other deteriorations since its construction. The reasons for the collapse of the building, which overlooked the waterfront, have not yet been established with certainty, but the first elements of the investigation had revealed that the structure of the building seemed in places degraded.

Montreal, May 14, 2022

Sources : Agence France Presse and Insurance journal