A judge has ruled that Victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse of a 12-story oceanfront Florida condominium will get a minimum of $150 million in compensation initially.
That sum includes insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and the expected proceeds from sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing. “The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said, adding that the group includes visitors and renters, not just condo owners. “Their rights will be protected.”
The $150 million does not count any proceeds from the numerous lawsuits already filed since the June 24 collapse, which killed at least 97 people. Those lawsuits are being consolidated into a single class action that would cover all victims and family members if they choose, the judge said. “I have no doubt, no stone will be left unturned,” Hanzman said of the lawsuits.
At this stage, 96 victims have been identified, many of them by using DNA analysis. Relatives and friends of three missing people say they are awaiting word on loved ones believed to have been in the building, meaning the overall toll could potentially go up to 98. Officials have not yet announced an end to the recovery effort.
On Wednesday, 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova was identified, according to her family and police. The young Canadian had just been accepted to a program teaching English in Japan and was visiting her friend Michelle Pazos. Gromova’s body was recovered three days ago and was one of the last to be identified. Her grieving family rushed from Canada after the collapse and had spent weeks in agony waiting in Miami.
“It just makes it real and hard but on a different level. At least we can move on now.” her sister Anna Gromova told The Associated Press, describing her sister as a bright star that fell fast. “We will remember her forever.” Her parents said she was bright, always on the go, constantly smiling and unafraid to take on difficult challenges. “It’s hard because you knew the loss was preventable and still nothing was prevented,” her sister said. The site of the collapse has now been completely cleared of debris.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEWSWEEK
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