By Adriana Gomez Lycon and Terry Spencer | The Associated Press
Surfside, Fla. – Gathering at a ceremony Thursday to honor the 98 people who died in a Florida condominium collapse last summer, some family members of the victims said they were in mourning to consider a nearly $1 billion settlement deep, which his lawyers had negotiated. on their behalf.
Families and local officials gathered at the chain-link fence around the vacant lot where Champlain Towers South once stood for the unveiling of temporary banners adorned with the victims’ names and ages, titled “Father, Mother, Son, Daughters”. Brothers, sisters”. ,
The ceremony came a day after the surprise announcement that a $997 million settlement had been reached in the families’ lawsuit against local officials, the developers of the adjacent building and others they blame for the 40-year-old’s downfall. 12-storey beachside building during the early hours of June 24.
For Ronit Felzer Nabrief, whose 21-year-old son Ilan Nabrief was killed in the collapse, it seems he lost a limb with his death, so the settlement is impossible to fathom.
“I’m still processing that loss,” Nabrief said. “Everything else is a little noisy. That’s it. I feel that noise, but I don’t really hear anything. It’s watching people’s mouths, and I really need to understand what they’re saying.” I’ll have to look at their lips.”
Pablo Langsfeld, who lost his 26-year-old daughter, Nicole, said the agreement “is not meant to stop[but]however it helps.”
He said that the lawyers have done a great job.
Most of Champlain Towers South suddenly collapsed around 1:20 a.m. on June 24 as most of its residents fell asleep. Only three people survived the initial collapse. Despite round-the-clock efforts by rescuers who dug out the 40-foot (12 m) pile of rubble for two weeks, no one was left alive. Another three dozen people were present in the part of the building where they were standing.
The condominium’s residents and visitors formed a melting pot: Orthodox Jews, Latin American, Israelis, Europeans, and snowbirds from the Northeast.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levin Cava, who visited the site daily during the search, said Thursday’s ceremony and banner “we remember and honor the lives lost forever.”
Surfside’s newly elected mayor Shlomo Danzinger said the idea for the signs came to him when he was walking through the site with his teenage daughter, who was in the area during the collapse and was caught in a cloud of dust. Danzinger said she admitted that driving in the area always made her sad.
“We wanted to make sure that people who are driving or walking by will see those names and remember what happened,” he said. A permanent memorial is planned.
The speed and size of the proposed $997 million settlement also stunned Circuit Court Judge Michael Heinzmann, who is presiding over the trial, when it was announced at a hearing Wednesday.
During the hearing, Heinzmann said, “It’s fantastic.” “It’s a recovery that is much higher than I expected.”
In comparison, the families of 3,000 victims of 9/11 shared $7 billion. The settlement still requires final approval and will increase after lots of the building are sold at auction later this month. An initial bid of $120 million has already been filed.
Harley S. Tropin, who represents the Champlain Towers families, credited the judge with establishing the circumstances that led to a speedy conclusion of the trial. Instead of allowing the trial to take four or five years, as is typical in such cases, Heinzmann made it clear that the case would go to trial quickly if the parties could not settle.
“It put enormous pressure on everyone – plaintiffs and defendants,” Tropin said Thursday. “This tragedy was unique and I think the defendants, along with everyone in the courtroom, wanted to see if there was an appropriate way to give some closure to the victims.”
The specifics of the settlement or how it will be distributed has not been released. Respondents include developers, builders and others involved in the Eighty Seven Park condo, the luxury building built five years ago just south of Champlain; The company that provided the alarm and security system for Champlain South reportedly failed to alert residents; and the town of Surfside.
Champlain South residents and victims’ families have blamed the vibrations caused by the construction of the Eighty Seven Park condos for weakening the structural wall supporting their building’s pool deck. The collapse of the deck on 24 June triggered a cascade of structural failures that ended with the partial collapse of the building seven minutes later.
The developers of Eighty Seven Park insist that their building was built safely and had no role in the collapse. His lawyer, Michael Thomas, said in a statement that his participation in the settlement was not an acknowledgment of guilt.
“Our clients’ insurers made a business decision to resolve claims against them and contribute to the overall settlement of this litigation to avoid litigation time, expense and inconvenience,” Thomas wrote. “The design, development and construction of AC Seven Park did not in any way cause or contribute to the collapse of Champlain Towers South. It is hoped that ending this lawsuit will help to some degree of closure for survivors of this tragic event.” Will get it.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process that is expected to take years. Substandard construction techniques used in the early 1980s when Champlain Towers South was built and a potential lack of proper maintenance by its condo association over the years are two other areas being explored.
Langsfeld said he would not begin to feel emotionally closed to his daughter’s death until after the investigation was complete.
Still, the closure may not happen, but it’s going to be “closer when we know whose fault it is,” he said.
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.