$1 Billion Settlement Approved at Emotional Hearing For Surfside Condo Collapse Victims

In a hearing the day before the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman granted final approval for a $1.02 billion class-action settlement.

On June 24, 2021, 98 lives were lost in the collapse, the cause of which is still undetermined. The $1.02 billion will go to people who lost loved ones in the collapse of the 12-story, 136-unit condominium. About $96 million is expected to go to unit owners for economic losses. 

“I could not be more proud of the people who led this case in all respects,” Hanzman told the court Thursday morning. 

The public was allowed to comment on the settlement in court. According to court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg, not a single class member rejected the settlement or decided to opt out of it.

There was hardly a dry eye among the loved ones of victims and unit owners in the courtroom. Eileen Rosenberg, the mother of Malky Weisz, who died in the collapse while visiting her father, tearfully thanked Hanzman and the attorneys involved for their efforts in getting the litigation resolved so quickly. Rosenberg said she was afraid litigation would take decades. 

“Heroes wear black robes and business suits,” said Rosenberg said. “Your honor and each member of this court, you are all angels in disguise.”

Michael T. Fay and his team at Avison Young handled the marketing and sale of the property pro bono. Hanzman awarded Fay and his firm 50% of the standard fee of $1.5%, or approximately $1.8 million for their services at closing. The payment will not have an impact on the money allocated toward unit owners. 

Hanzman also offered to compensate court-appointed mediator Bruce Greer for his hard work on the case, but Greer said he did not want any money.

“Whatever fees you were going to allocate to me, allocate them to the victims,” said Greer in court. 

Funds for victims are expected to start to be distributed by the end of July

Attorneys have also requested $100 million in fees and costs for over 30,000 hours of work put in for the class-action lawsuits, in a separate court filing.

In a recent court filing, Miami attorney Philip Freidin found the total of about $100 million is reasonable “given that this litigation is among the most difficult, complex and high-profile class actions I have witnessed in 53 years of practicing law.”

Hanzman said he would not take up the issue until the claims process is over in September, as the victims come first.

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