A tentative near billion-dollar settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of last June’s apartment block collapse in Florida, a lawyer has said.
Harley S Tropin announced the 997 million dollars (£813 million) settlement during a hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman.
Still pending final approval, the settlement involves insurance companies, developers of an adjacent building and other defendants.
A key question from the beginning has been how to allocate money from the property’s sale, insurance proceeds and damages from lawsuits among wrongful death cases and property claims.
The 12-storey Champlain Towers South in Surfside collapsed abruptly 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 recover the remains of those who died. A total of 98 people were killed.
The main lawsuit, filed on behalf of Champlain Towers South victims and family members, contends that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilised the Champlain Towers building, which was in dire need of major structural repair.
The collapse triggered lawsuits from victims, families and apartment owners as well as state and federal investigations.
In December, a Florida grand jury issued a lengthy list of recommendations aimed at preventing another collapse, including earlier and more frequent inspections and better waterproofing.
Surfside, a town just north of Miami Beach, comprises a mix of older homes and apartment blocks similar to the collapsed tower, built decades ago for the middle-class, and recently erected luxury blocks drawing the wealthy.
They include former first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who live about a block north of the collapsed building.