November 17, 2021

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A Miami lawsuit charges that a luxury condominium tower built just a few feet away from Champlain Towers South caused structural damage to the already ailing building in Surfside, leading to the collapse that killed 98 people in June.

The complaint alleges that builders of the newer condo, known as 87 Park, brushed off warning signs and built structures that exacerbated the Champlain Towers’ problems, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.

Among the class-action suit’s allegations:

  • Pumping out groundwater during excavation shifted the site’s water table, redistributing the soil and putting “excessive and dangerous structural stress” on Champlain Towers.
  • Contractors at 87 Park built a walkway between the two properties at a sloped angle that funneled water into the basement of Champlain Towers, “corroding [the tower’s] structural supports.”
  • Pile-driving at 87 Park shook the Surfside tower beyond “acceptable and safe limits,” even though engineers for the developers had suggested alternative techniques that would have been less intrusive but more expensive.

The suit names nine defendants, including the development firm for 87 Park, along with engineering firms, the Champlain Towers Condominium Association, and a law firm that represented the condo association. The development group has denied all the charges, blaming the collapse on poor construction and inadequate maintenance at Champlain Towers.

The lawsuit is one of dozens that have been filed over the collapse.

The two properties were originally separated by a street, 87th Terrace, in Miami Beach. But Beach commissioners voted to vacate the 50-foot road to the developers. The developers in turn made a $10 million contribution to the city — something the class-action claims is illegal because Florida law does not permit the purchase of public rights-of-way, the Herald reported. The developers then turned the road into a narrow walkway, bringing 87 Park’s property closer to Champlain Towers in 2016.

“By acquiring 87th Terrace, the Terra Defendants could add almost a half-acre to the footprint of the 8701 Collins Avenue Property, increase the density, build additional units and square feet, and maximize their profits,” the complaint reads.

TOPICS LAWSUITS ABUSE MOLESTATION CONSTRUCTION CONDOMINIUM