Tentative settlement reached in Surfside building collapse

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(NEW YORK) — A tentative $83 million settlement has been reached in a punitive class action lawsuit brought by victims affected by the Surfside building that partially collapsed in South Florida last June, court filings show.

The lawsuit was filed against several groups and individuals, including companies that developed and maintained the property, the company responsible for the construction of the building, and engineers and inspectors of the building.

Ninety-eight people were killed in the collapse when the South Tower suffered a “catastrophic failure,” according to court documents.

While 55 condominium units were immediately destroyed, the remainder of the building, which had 136 units, had to be demolished, documents show.

The agreement provides for an $83 million Common Fund to be paid to unit owners as compensations for condominiums and contents; in exchange, unit owners will be relieved from any liability for injury and wrongful death claims, according to court documents.

Each unit owner will be paid a proportionate share of the funds based on their ownership share of the condominium, court documents show.

Once the agreement is finalized and can no longer be appealed, the victims will receive $50 million out of the first $100 million that is recovered from groups responsible for the building. The remaining $33 million of the settlement will be paid out of the money that’s first recovered after that $100 million, according to the court filing.

“All other funds recovered will inure solely for the benefit of the wrongful death claimants,” according to a court filing.

Morabito Consultants, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said in a statement that it “denies that it is, in any way, liable for the collapse or the resulting damages.”

“But we also firmly believe that the families who have suffered from this tragedy deserve compensation so that they may focus on healing,” it added.

In a statement Tuesday to NBC 6, Becker & Poliakoff, which represents the condo association, said it “continues to deny that it is in any way responsible for the collapse… (and) this settlement is not a finding of fault against Becker…. We are pleased this matter was quickly resolved and sincerely hope the insurance settlement will bring some relief to those impacted by this terrible tragedy.”

The court will hold a final approval hearing for the agreement on March 30. Any objections to the agreement must be submitted to the court by March 23.

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