Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman announced the sum, which includes about $50 million in insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and at least $100 million proceeds from the sale of the property, at a hearing on Wednesday.
“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said, explaining that visitors and renters are included in the settlement, not just condo owners, according to the Associated Press. “Their rights will be protected.”
The 40-year-old, 12-story beachfront complex partially collapsed on June 24, destroying 136 apartments in total. In the time since the collapse, old construction reports expressing concern for certain parts of the building have resurfaced as investigators try to determine what caused the destruction.
To date, 97 people who died in the collapse have been identified, and officials have not yet announced an end to the recovery effort. Two additional victims, Anastasia Gromova, 24, and Linda March, 58, were identified on Wednesday.
The money Hanzman awarded to the victims does not include any proceeds from the various lawsuits that have been filed since the collapse. The other lawsuits could be set up as one single class-action lawsuit, the judge explained.
“I have no doubt — no stone will be left unturned,” Hanzman said of the cases.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava explained on Wednesday that, at this point, they're relying mostly on the work of the medical examiner's office and the scientific and technical processes of identifying human remains.
"Thanks to the diligent and incredibly thorough work of our first responders and debris handling teams, the building collapse site has been mostly cleared and debris relocated to the evidentiary debris collection site near the airport," the mayor said in a statement. "The first responders are now conducting additional searches of the debris at the collection site, as we continue to do everything we can to search as thoroughly as possible for any remains to bring closure to families. We are continuing to search with enormous care and diligence and to work closely hand-in-hand with faith leaders as we have since the beginning of this process."
Cava added that the fire and water made it "very difficult to recover all the remains" and that "the enormous pressure of the weight of the collapse and the passage of time also make it more challenging. Our teams are committed to doing everything possible to bring closure to the families, and that’s why they continue to search the debris."
At least 272 families have received services through the Family Assistance Center, per the mayor's office.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Judge awards initial $150 million for victims of Florida condo collapse