Surfside Collapse: Judge Approves $83 Million Settlement

May 6, 2022

People who owned units in Champlain Towers South in Surfside, the oceanfront condominium building that collapsed last year will divide $83 Million for property losses, though the compensation for families over the 98 deaths is yet to be determined, a judge ruled in March.

The money for owners of the 136-unit Champlain Towers South building will come from sale of the vacant beachfront land, as well as insurance policies. Unless they opt out, the owners who take the deal will relinquish their rights to sue individually but could avoid an assessment because of the loss. The compensation for the families of the 98 people killed in the collapse is not included in the settlement and will be determined after testimonies from experts are heard.

"It gives them certainty. These people need certainty and they need to carry on," Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said before approving the deal at a hearing. "Maybe it's not 100% of value, but it's pretty close. I think it's an outstanding result."

The cause of the collapse remains unknown, although the building was in the midst of an inspection and engineers had pointed out serious structural flaws. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is the main investigative agency in a probe that could take many months.

Hanzman said the deal approved is contingent on the land sale going through, however, the sale could be for a higher amount.

Under the agreement, each unit owner will be paid a share based on their ownership portion of a condominium unit and for personal items that were lost. It does not include money for wrongful death claims arising from the 98 fatalities, which will be settled later after input from court-appointed experts.

“We have 98 people who lost their lives and we need to keep this case in perspective,” Hanzman said.

The Town Of Surfside is planning a permanent memorial to honor the 98 killed in the collapse and a one-year anniversary event in June.