It was an announcement that surprised the very judge handling the case.
The survivors and relatives of the victims of the condominium collapse Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, in which 98 people died nearly a year ago, have settled for $997 million. as compensation for the damage caused.
The agreement, revealed at a court hearing on Wednesday and still pending final approval, also covers apartment owners in the building and includes insurance companies, developers of an adjacent building and other participants in the litigation.
The deal comes weeks before the one-year anniversary of the tragedy that killed 98 people when the 12-storey residential block partially collapsed on June 24, 2021.
The rest of the building that had been left standing was demolished weeks later.
“I’m surprised by this result, I think it’s fantastic,” Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman said.
“This is compensation that far exceeds what I had anticipated,” he added.
Lawyers for those affected warned that the compensation could be even higher if they reach an agreement with a remaining company. It is not yet known how the exact distribution of the money will be between all the litigants.
Before the announcement, the judge had approved a compensation amount of US$83 million to be divided among the owners of the apartments for the loss of their properties.
But until now no compensation had been determined for the families of the fatal victims, which generated disputes in a hearing in March when different positions were confronted between those who lost their homes and those who lost their loved ones.
The settlement amount increased after the developers of a luxury building adjacent to the collapsed residential complex, as well as contractors and consultants who were sued or were under investigation for their alleged responsibility in the incident, agreed to sign.
The defendant companies warned that the agreement does not imply an admission of negligence.
Some relatives of victims spoke to local media and expressed their relief at the announcement of the agreement, although they agreed that no amount of money can ever compensate for the pain of losing their loved ones.
The land where the building was will be auctioned on May 24.
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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-61417268, IMPORTING DATE: 2022-05-12 02:50:05