A settlement of more than $1 billion for the victims of the tragic 2021 condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida has been reached.
The Miami Herald reported that this past Friday that a team of lawyers representing family members of the dozens of people who died in the Champlain Towers South tragedy reached a settlement totaling $1,021,199,000.
The settlement agreement was submitted to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman who gave his preliminary approval on Saturday at a court hearing that followed around-the-clock negotiations about a potential settlement.
The settlement was reached less than a month before the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
“It’s a great result,” Hanzman said on Saturday. “This agreement appears to be a very reasonable compromise of the claims.”
The over one-billion-dollar agreement comes as a class-action settlement and as the defendants agreed to pay to resolve wrongful-death and personal-injury claims by the victims’ relatives. The defendants made no admission of wrongdoing and most of the payments to the plaintiffs are being covered through insurance coverage.
In the class-action plaintiff’s lawyers’ 213-page settlement filing they wrote, “As this Court has noted, the collapse of the Champlain Towers South on June 24, 2021, in Surfside was a ‘black swan’ event that devastated the community. The death and destruction caused by the collapse resulted in incalculable damage to so many individuals.”
The lawyers continued, “Remarkably, after months of rigorous, arm’s-length negotiations … more than two dozen potentially liable parties have agreed to an unprecedented settlement for an unprecedented event.”
Hanzman is expected to give final approval of the class-action settlement later this summer after a comment period and “fairness hearing” on June 23. Hanzman also plans to participate in a series of claims hearing in which relatives and representatives of victims who died or were injured in Champlain South’s collapse will be able to make a case for what their lives were worth. This process is expected to be arduous and emotional.
The class-action team’s co-chairs released a statement that said, “We are pleased to have finalized the settlments we reached with more than two dozen parties and their insurers.”
The statement continued, “We are grateful to Judge Hanzman, who fast-tracked this case to get it resolved in record time. We also recognize the efforts of the receiver Michael Goldberg and the mediator Bruce Greer and all of the members of the plaintiffs steering committee who worked tirelessly on this matter.”