Billion dollar settlement reached over Florida apartment block collapse

An initial settlement of nearly $1 billion has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of an apartment building collapse last June in Florida, a lawyer said.

Harley S Tropin announced a $997m (£813m) settlement during a hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hansman.

The settlement is still awaiting final approval, and involves insurers, developers of adjacent buildings and other defendants.

Earlier this year, Judge Hansmann approved an $83m (£67m) settlement to compensate people who have suffered economic losses such as condominiums and personal property.

The main question from the start was how to allocate money from the sale of property and insurance proceeds and damages from lawsuits between wrongful death cases and property claims.

The 12-storey Champlain South Tower on Surfside suddenly collapsed in the early hours of June 24, almost instantly destroying dozens of individual apartments and burying victims under tons of rubble.

Rescuers spent weeks carefully digging through mountains of concrete, first to find survivors and later to retrieve the remains of those who perished. A total of 98 people were killed.

The main suit, filed on behalf of the Champlain Towers South victims and family members, maintains that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park Tower caused the destruction and destabilization of the Champlain Towers building, which was in dire need of major structural repair.

Champlain Towers was in the middle of a 40-year structural review when it partially collapsed to the ground

The collapse sparked lawsuits from victims, families and apartment owners as well as state and federal investigations.

In December, the Florida grand jury issued a long list of recommendations aimed at preventing another collapse, including previous and frequent inspections and improving waterproofing.

Surfside, a town just north of Miami Beach, is a mixture of decades-old homes and apartment complexes similar to a crumbling tower, built for the middle class, and more recently for the wealthy.

They include the former first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who live in an area north of the collapsed building.

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