Judge okays $1.2 billion settlement for Surfside collapse victims

Families of those killed in civil disaster and former residents of Miami-area tower to divide money, as complicated negotiations wrap up day before first anniversary of tragedy

Illustrative: Rescue personnel work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, in Surfside, Florida, June 25, 2021. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
Illustrative: Rescue personnel work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, in Surfside, Florida, June 25, 2021. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

SARASOTA, Florida (JTA) – A judge in Florida approved a $1.2 billion settlement just hours before the one-year anniversary of the residential tower collapse in Surfside on June 24, which killed 98 people.

The victims’ families and residents who were injured from the building’s collapse will share $1 billion dollars in compensation from nearly two dozen defendants, including a company that managed safety at the tower.

Condo owners will split an estimated $96 million in proceeds from the sale of the land where the Champlain Towers South stood. A Dubai developer is reportedly in talks to purchase the land for a new project.

Another $100 million will go to legal fees for the dozens of lawyers involved in the case.

While Miami Judge Michael Hanzman said this was the most complicated case he had seen in his 35-year career, he called the outcome “remarkable.”

No victims or their families chose to opt out of the settlement, and Hanzman said the decision avoided the need for a trial that could have lasted a decade.

Family members of the 98 victims gathered Thursday night to mark the moment at 1:22 a.m. when the building began to collapse last year. First lady Jill Biden was scheduled to speak at a public memorial event on the site on Friday.

Peter Martin, of New York, who was in Miami visiting his brother, pays his respects at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Champlain Towers South building collapse, on Monday, July 12, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

The town of Surfside, where nearly half of the 6,000 residents are Jewish, has for decades served as a meeting place for geographically-separated Jews.

Miami has a large percentage of Hispanic Jews, many of whom come from families that came to the area after leaving Cuba, Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela.

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