Victims of Deadly Champlain Condo Collapse Reach $1 Billion Settlement

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The defendants embroiled in the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium reached a $997 million settlement, lawyers for the plaintiffs announced in court Wednesday.

The funds — mostly from the defendants’ insurance policies — will go toward compensating the personal-injury plaintiffs, injured survivors and family members of the 98 victims.

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The deal will close the litigation surrounding the collapse, less than a year after the tragedy struck in Surfside, Fla. It also avoids years-long and costly legal fights between the parties. 

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who’s presiding over the case and pushed for a speedy resolution, lauded the agreement, describing it as a win for the plaintiffs. “I’m at a loss for words,” the judge said. “The speed at which [the result] was achieved, in this court’s view, is beyond extraordinary.” 

The deal comes only two month after another class of plaintiffs reached a far smaller agreement. Victims who lost only lost property are set to receive $83 million

The $997 million deal could grow to as much as $1.1 billion, said the court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg. The additional funds will come from the sale of the waterfront site where the Champlain Towers South stood, which goes to auction later this month with a starting bid of $120 million. Goldberg’s estimate also includes about $50 million from insurance companies that has not yet been added to the $997 million tally. 

Judge Hanzman said he would approve the settlement before the tragedy’s anniversary on June 24. Victims could expect payments by this fall. 

The defendants who settled include David Martin’s Terra, a prominent Miami-based developer, and the contractors it hired to build Eighty Seven Park, the luxury condominium next door to the Champlain building. The plaintiffs alleged the construction for Terra’s development weakened Champlain’s structure, an accusation the developer has denied. 

Other defendants were the law firm that represented the Champlain condo association, Becker & Poliakoff, Surfside’s municipal government and Eighty Seven Park condo’s association. 

Some parties, which were not named in the lawsuit, will also contribute to the agreement. They include contractors that once did work for the Champlain building and additional firms involved in Eighty Seven Park’s development. 

Only one defendant, engineering consultant GeoSonics, has yet to settle. The firm is still negotiating. 

The lawyers that struck the agreement will be compensated through a sum approved by Judge Hanzman. 

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com