A judge in Florida gave initial approval Saturday to a settlement worth more than $1 billion for families who lost loved ones in an apartment building collapse that killed 98 people on a Florida beach.
The speed of the settlement following the unprecedented collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South complex in the early hours of June 24, 2021 means disputes that could last years in court will be avoided.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who oversees claims filed after the collapse, said during a remote hearing that it was the best possible outcome given the loss of life and property in the disaster.
“It’s a great result,” Hanzman said before preliminarily approving the deal, which was announced Friday. “It was a very controversial deal.”
Rachel Furst, co-chair of the legal group representing victims’ families, said the settlement also means defendants — insurers, developers, the city of Surfside and others — will have “complete peace of mind” that they won’t be sued. again. However, some people have the option to opt out of the settlement and pursue their claims independently in court.
“This was deeply negotiated,” Furst said. “We think this is an extraordinary deal.”
According to the agreement, those directly interested will have until June 6 to notify that they intend to participate. A week later, on June 23, Judge Hanzman will hold a fairness hearing to allow those who object to the settlement to be heard.
Attorney Michael Goldberg, the administrator assigned by the court to handle the case for the judge, said notice will be given to all family members of the deceased through the Champlain Towers South website and also on the Miami Herald.
“We’ll start right away,” Goldberg declared.