Even a week later, while the search for signs of life in the ruins of a collapsed barbecue south of the Champlain Towers continues, the search for an answer as to why this happened and who is to blame has already begun in the Florida legal system.
The government has launched criminal and civil proceedings over the collapse of a condominium building on the ocean, killing at least 28 people and leaving more than 117 missing. Miami-Dade State Attorney Catherine Fernandes Rundle has vowed to take the matter to a grand jury that will recommend criminal prosecution or simply examine the reasons for proposing reforms.
And at least five lawsuits have been filed on behalf of residents who survived or feared death. A lawyer who was involved in the lawsuits said the collapse raises broad concerns about infrastructure problems and our confidence in those responsible for them.
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“We can enter buildings without fear of collapsing around us and our loved ones can sleep through the night, they don’t have to worry about falling down 12 floors. In their sleep,” said Jeffrey Goodman, a Philadelphia-based resident who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the children of missing resident Harold Rosenberg. applied.
To date, lawsuits have accused the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association and, in some cases, a local architect and engineer of negligence in failing to address the serious construction problems already noted in 2018. The Surfside township inspector also reported on the discussions and plans by Goodman’s firm to add the city as a defendant.
“The role of building owners and architects and engineers, inspectors and security professionals is to ensure that buildings are safe for their occupants to enter,” Goodman said.
At Friday’s hearing, the judge appointed a manager to represent the condominium association’s interests. One of them is missing. The council has about $ 48 million in insurance coverage, while the ocean floor is valued at $ 30-50 million, the judge said.
The judge said he hoped the trial would be resolved soon, possibly within a year. By that time, he had authorized the recipient, attorney Michael Goldberg, to pay each citizen $ 10,000 for temporary housing and $ 2,000 to cover funeral expenses.
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Robert Mongeluzzi, a lawyer representing the Rosenberg family and seeking access to the site, said such cases were only about money.
“They want to turn it into a search to find out what happened,” Mongeluzzi said. “We believe the evidence still exists.”
Lawyers for the Condominium Association did not respond to emails requesting comment, nor did board members themselves.
One of the previous cases related to possible legal rallies was related to the collapse of the barrier wall of a dilapidated building in Philadelphia in 2013. He overturned a neighboring Salvation Army store, killing six and injuring 13, a woman found alive 13 hours later, losing both legs, and more than 30 operations before his death this year. had to spend.
In subsequent lawsuits, the civil court found the Salvation Army, the owner of the building and its architect, to be of great responsibility, and the contracts agreed to pay $ 227 million in damages.
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Criminally, the architect received immunity in exchange for cooperating with the prosecution, the food wheel operator-contractor was acquitted of a third-degree felony charge, but was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter; a forklift driver who took prescription drugs for his injury was also jailed.
The collapse also forced the city of Philadelphia to send inspectors to inspect demolition sites and led to stricter rules.
A senior jury in Florida is considering the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in 2018 that killed six people. And the murder and third-degree murder charges were filed in 1996 as a result of the accidental crash of a ValuJet 592 in Everglades that killed 110 people.
Denis Bender, a professor of delinquency law at Chapman University in Orange County, California, who studies large-scale disasters, sees a growing trend in such cases not only to recover damages, but also to prosecute for negligence. The reason for this is that, more and more, we are seeing them happening in real or real-time, like events that happened recently or with horrific images taken from Surfside around the world.
“I think it’s increasing because of the media and social media – you don’t have to play the drums here, but everyone is horrified by what they see. And there’s a cry for justice,” Binder said.
“In such a wonderful thing, in today’s world, there’s a lot of pressure to look for mistakes,” he said. “And there is already evidence that people (in Surfside) have made the wrong decisions.”