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A judge has given final approval to a $1 billion settlement for victims of a Miami building collapse that killed 98 people.
Most of the total will go to those who lost family members when the 12-story building fell in June 2021exactly one year ago tomorrow.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said, “It will never be enough to compensate them for the tragic loss they suffered. This settlement is the best we can do. It’s a remarkable result. It’s extraordinary.”
The judge praised the dozens of attorneys involved for avoiding what could have been years of litigation with no certain outcome.
The collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in the Miami the suburb of Surfside led to the largest non-hurricane emergency response in Florida the story.
The tower suddenly collapsed towards the ground in the early hours of June 24 last year, almost instantly destroying dozens of individual apartments and burying the victims under tons of rubble.
Rescuers spent weeks carefully dig through mountains of concretefirst to find survivors and later to recover the remains of those who died.
“I want these souls to rest”
The main lawsuit, brought on behalf of the victims and their family members of Champlain Towers South, contended that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized the Champlain Towers buildingwhich was in dire need of major structural repairs.
Raysa Rodriguez, who survived the collapse of a ninth-floor unit originally left intact, welcomed Thursday’s court outcome.
“You have no idea how much relief this is for me personally,” she said.
“I’m so exhausted. I just want this done. I want those souls to rest.”
The huge payment will come from several sources, including insurance companies, engineering companies and the luxury condominium that has been built next door.
Neither party admits wrongdoing.
Despite the court’s resolution, a definitive answer as to the cause of the tragedy is still likely years away.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is leading the federal investigation into the collapse, recently said invasive testing would soon begin on material samples from the site of the collapse.
The tests will help find potential flaws in structural elements of the building by looking at things like material density, porosity and whether there has been corrosion, NIST said.
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