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Judge awards $150 million in initial compensation to victims of Florida condo collapse

Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Giorgio Viera / AFP)
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Giorgio Viera / AFP)

Victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse of a 12-story oceanfront Florida condominium will get a minimum of $150 million in compensation initially, a judge says.

That sum includes insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and the expected proceeds from sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman says at a hearing.

“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge says, adding that the group includes visitors and renters, not just condo owners. “Their rights will be protected.”

The $150 million does not count any proceeds from the numerous lawsuits already filed since the June 24 collapse, which killed at least 97 people. Those lawsuits are being consolidated into a single class action that would cover all victims and family members if they choose, the judge says.

“I have no doubt, no stone will be left unturned,” Hanzman says of the lawsuits.

A receiver appointed by Hanzman to handle the Champlain Towers board’s finances says the site has been completely cleared of debris under the watchful eye of investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology — the agency leading a federal probe into the collapse.

Rubble considered key evidence is being stored in a Miami-area warehouse, with the rest in nearby vacant lots, says the receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg. All of that will be preserved as possible evidence for the lawsuits and for other experts to review, he says.

“It may take years for their report to become public,” Goldberg says of the NIST probe.

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