Judge says Florida condo collapse victims will receive at least $ 150 million – .

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Judge says Florida condo collapse victims will receive at least $ 150 million – .


The rubble, considered key evidence, is stored in a warehouse in the Miami area, with the rest in vacant lots nearby, attorney Michael Goldberg said.

Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press

Victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse of a 12-story Florida oceanfront condominium will initially receive minimum compensation of $ 150 million, a judge said Wednesday.

That sum includes insurance for the Champlain Towers South building and the proceeds expected from the sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade circuit judge Michael Hanzman said in a hearing.

“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said, adding that the group includes visitors and tenants, not just condo owners. “Their rights will be protected.

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The $ 150 million does not include any proceeds from the many lawsuits already filed since the June 24 collapse, which killed at least 97 people. These lawsuits are consolidated into a single class action suit that would cover all victims and their family members if they so choose, the judge said.

“I have no doubt no stone will be overlooked,” Hanzman said of the lawsuits.

A receiver appointed by Hanzman to handle the finances of Champlain Towers’ board of directors said the site had been completely cleared of debris under the watchful eye of investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology – the agency conducting a federal investigation into the collapse.

The rubble, considered key evidence, is being stored in a warehouse in the Miami area, with the rest in vacant lots nearby, receiver attorney Michael Goldberg said. All of this will be kept as possible evidence for prosecution and for other experts to review, he said.

“It may take years for their report to become public,” Goldberg said of the NIST probe.

The building had just undergone its 40-year recertification process when it collapsed. This came three years after an engineer warned of serious structural issues requiring immediate attention. Most of the concrete repairs and other work had not yet started.

There are still differences of opinion among condo owners on what to do with the site. Some want the whole condo to be rebuilt so they can go back. Others say it should be left as a memorial to honor those who have died. A third suggestion is to combine the two.

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Owner Raysa Rodriguez, whose unit is on the ninth floor, said she couldn’t imagine returning to an apartment building in a place where so many friends have died.

“Personally, I would never set foot in a building. It’s a burial place, ”Rodriguez told the judge. “I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of all those who have perished. “

Oren Cytrynbaum, an attorney who unofficially represents other co-owners, said it was important to think creatively about selling the property, including whether any requirements could be added, such as some kind of memorial for the owners. future developers.

“It shouldn’t be a traditional land sale,” Cytrynbaum said. “We are not on a path. “

Hanzman, however, said time is running out because victims and families need the money to start rebuilding their lives.

“This is not a case where we have time to let the grass grow underneath,” he said.

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Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber has donated land in his neighboring town for the construction of a Surfside Memorial.

“All options will be considered,” the judge said, adding that any memorial must be paid for with public money. “It’s going to have to be funded by the general public, not by these victims in particular. “

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