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Surfside Collapse Victims File Consolidated Complaint Against Condo Association

By Ezra Amacher | August 18, 2021

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Former residents of the Surfside, Fla. collapsed condominium have filed a consolidated amended class action complaint against the building’s condo association.

Plaintiffs allege that the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association breached its duty by neglecting to maintain, repair, and replace the building’s common elements and portions of condominium units that provided structural support to the building. By failing to keep the building in a safe condition and warning residents of unreasonable risks of harm, the association as a result caused the condominium collapse, which killed 98 people and led to the destruction of all 136 units.

“Together, these victims suffered damages estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars” the plaintiffs said. “They have lost their loved ones, their homes, and nearly all their personal belongings.”

The consolidated complaint contains a liability class and a personal injury, wrongful death, and an economic and property damage subclass.

Two of the named plaintiffs, Raquel Azevedo de Oliveira and Kevin Spiegel, will ask the court to serve as representatives in the liability, personal injury and wrongful death subclass. Both lost family members in the collapse.

The suit alleges that the condominium association’s governing document imposes on the group the duty to maintain, repair and replace at its own expense “All common elements and limited common elements. . . . . (3) All portions of the units (except interior wall surfaces) contributing to the support of the building, which portions shall include, but not be limited to, the outside walls of the building, and load bearing columns.”

Plaintiffs said the association was aware, or should have been aware, that certain parts of the building’s structure were in failing or deteriorating condition for a period of years.

The consolidated complaint cites a 2018 structural engineering analysis report done by Morabito Consultants on behalf of the association which uncovered concrete spalling or cracking on the concrete slab edges of balconies.

Nearly half of the building’s balconies faced systemic deterioration. The report also found abundant cracking and spalling in the concrete columns, beams and walls of the parking garage. “Notwithstanding Morabito’s 2018 Report and prior complaints indicating significant structural problems that posed a risk to the life, safety, and property of unit owners, residents, occupants, and guests of Champlain Towers South, the Association failed to take action to make the necessary repairs,” the suit said.

Florida Circuit Judge said in July that Surfside victims and families will expect to receive $150 million in initial compensation.

The sum includes $50 million in insurance and $100 million in proceeds from the sale of the property where the building once stood.

Since then, at least one bidder has offered $120 million for the property.

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