Victims in condo collapse get $997 million settlement

Southeast

(NewsNation) —A settlement of nearly $1 billion for the victims of the Surfside, Florida condo collapse that left 98 dead has been reached as part of a class action lawsuit against insurers, developers and an engineering firm alleging wrongful death in the building’s stunning collapse.

The settlement, announced in a court hearing Wednesday, was much higher than lawyers and judges expected in the case.

In July, a judge said the families of the 98 people killed when the 12-story building collapsed would get a minimum of $150 million. Wednesday’s settlement was for a shocking $997 million.

While the settlement is significantly larger than what was anticipated, it has still done little to appease the anguish of family members of the 98 people killed when the Champlain Towers South condo collapsed June 24, 2021.

Pablo Rodriguez, who lost both his mother and grandmother in the collapse, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Wednesday that coping with the incident was still an “ongoing process” and the money doesn’t change the heartache.

A worker makes her way past the rubble and debris of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Fla. on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Officials overseeing the search at the site of the Florida condominium collapse seem increasingly somber about the prospects for finding anyone alive. They said Tuesday that crews have detected no new signs of life in the rubble nearly two weeks after the disaster struck at the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

“There’s no amount of money that will ever make this O.K.,” Rodriguez said. “Given our legal system and our options available, I think it is the best result we could have hoped for.”

Wednesday’s settlement means court litigation will end for the families, another positive of the announcement, Rodriguez said. But the incident still haunts him.

“I’ll still wake up in the middle of the night just seeing that video of the building collapse … it’ll wake me up at two, three in the morning still and I just wake up crying,” Rodriguez said. “Still dealing with it, definitely not over it, not moving on.”

A monetary settlement does not mean this incident is over and done with either, Rodriguez said. He still wants to see accountability for whoever is responsible for the collapse and political reforms coming for inspections and oversight of condo boards.

“All of the politicians came down and promised reforms that were gonna happen, both political parties were in agreement that this needed to happen, condo boards need oversight, there needs to be stricter and more frequent inspections — and yet the Florida legislature failed in dramatic fashion when it came to that,” Rodriguez said.

At this point, Rodriguez said he is not hopeful reform will happen.

In December, a Florida grand jury ruled condos must have more frequent inspections in response to the collapse. It required condominium towers to have an initial recertification inspection by an engineer from 10 to 15 years after their construction and every 10 years after that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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