98 deadSurvivors and next of kin of the victims of the collapsed apartment near Miami will receive joint compensation of more than one billion dollars (970 million euros). That is what the court in Miami decided today. “It will never be enough to compensate them for the tragic loss they have suffered. This settlement is the best we can do,” the judge said.
The twelve-storey apartment building in the American town of Surfside, near Miami, largely collapsed exactly one year ago today. 98 people died as a result. Rescue workers searched for bodies in the rubble for more than a month. The cause of the disaster is still unclear, but three years earlier a warning had already been issued about the condition of the forty-year-old building.
Ten parties were charged in the settlement case, including the municipality of Surfside, project developers, the association of owners of the complex and engineering firms. It is exceptional that such a large settlement case is settled within a year. The judge today praised the dozens of lawyers who were involved in the settlement of the lawsuit.
‘I’m so exhausted’
The vast majority of the settlement of $1.02 billion (970 million euros) will go to the people who lost someone in the disaster. About $100 million has been cleared for legal costs and about $96 million has been set aside for residents who have lost their homes and belongings. According to The Guardian none of those involved objected to the settlement.
Photos show that relatives cried in each other’s arms after the judge’s ruling. Resident Raysa Rodriguez, who survived the disaster, praised the result. “You have no idea what a relief this is for me personally. I’m so exhausted. I just want this done. I want these souls to rest,” she told the British newspaper.
It is still unclear why the building could collapse. An investigation into this could possibly take years. However, in 2018 a report already warned about structural problems of the building. As a result of the disaster, authorities in Florida immediately began investigating other residential buildings for collapse risks. The survey revealed that at least ten condominiums in the Miami area had worrisome architectural defects, such as crumbling concrete. The owners had to take immediate action.
The death toll from the Miami disaster is among the highest in United States history. The collapse of the Hyatt Regency walkway in 1981 killed 114 people. A disaster at the Massachusetts factory in 1860 killed between 88 and 145 workers.
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