Florida apartment collapse triggered by construction work: lawsuit

The construction of a luxury building next door triggered the collapse of an already fragile Florida condominium that killed 98 people in June, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday on behalf of Champlain Tower’s South victims and family members, claims that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized a building in need of major structural repairs.

Champlain Towers, the lawsuit claims, “was an older building in need of routine repairs and maintenance, but it was not until excavation and construction began on the luxury high-rise condominium project next door” that the building became unsafe.

“The collapse was completely prevented,” the lawsuit states.

Gini Gonte visits Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial on July 7, 2021 to honor friends who lost their lives after the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida.  (Al Diaz / Miami Herald via AP)

Gini Gonte visits Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial on July 7, 2021 to honor friends who lost their lives after the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. (Al Diaz / Miami Herald via AP)

SURFSIDE CONDO-OFFERS FAMILIES RECEIVE AT LEAST $ 150 MILLION, JUDGE SAYS

The Champlain Towers was in the midst of its 40-year structural review when it collapsed without warning in the early morning hours of June 24th. The collapse has triggered several federal and state investigations and a barrage of lawsuits from victims, families and apartment owners.

The leading investigative body is the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), which recently estimated that its investigation could take as long as two years.

The lawsuit alleges that excavation, piling and other work in Eighty Seven Park between 2016 and 2019 caused vibrations that weakened the shaky structure next door. In addition, groundwater was diverted from the new building to Champlain Tower’s property basement after developers purchased a small road separating the two, the lawsuit states.

Search and rescue teams are looking for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment building on Sunday.

Search and rescue teams are looking for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment building on Sunday.

MYSTICIANS WHO STOLE SURFSIDE CONDO ARE COLLECTING THE VICTIMS ‘IDENTITY TO GO SHOPPING TO MEET IN COURT

This latest 169-page complaint is a potential class action lawsuit that could represent all victims and their families. It was brought as part of an existing case in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, which also involves the planned sale of Champlain Towers property for the benefit of the victims.

The lawsuit does not mention a specific amount of damages, but could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to lawyers involved in the case. The nine defendants include developers of Eighty Seven Park, an engineering firm, the Champlain Towers South Condo Association and a Miami law firm.

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Defendants denied that the construction of Eighty Seven Park was responsible for the collapse of the building. The 18-story building is located in Miami Beach just south of the Champlain Towers site in Surfside.

“As several media reports have documented, Champlain Towers South was improperly designed, poorly constructed, significantly underfunded, and inadequately maintained and repaired,” said attorney David B. Weinstein, representing 8701 Collins Development LLC.

“We expect a full review of the facts – and the ongoing investigation by NIST – to confirm our position,” Weinstein said in an email.

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