'Their rights will be protected': Florida condo collapse victims will receive $150M to start, judge says

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A Florida judge said Wednesday that victims and families of the Florida condo collapse that killed nearly 100 people June 24 would receive $150 million to start.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing the amount would include $50 million in insurance money and at least $100 million from the sale of the site of Champlain Towers South, which was ordered to proceed this month.

"The court's concern has always been the victims here," Hanzman said. "Their rights will be protected."

Hanzman noted that victims of the collapse include renters and visitors to the property, not just condominium owners.

The building collapse, which left at least 97 people dead and others unaccounted for, brought on several lawsuits from victims and families. Hanzman has authorized the expedition of those suits and ordered that payments be fast-tracked.

Wednesday, the judge said lawsuits would be consolidated into a class-action suit, and the $150 million in compensation would not draw from those lawsuits.

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The site of the building collapse was nearly cleared of rubble Wednesday. The debris is stored in a warehouse and vacant lots, to be preserved for use in lawsuits and investigation.

Though authorities haven't determined the cause of the collapse, there were concerns of possible structural damage to the 40-year-old condominium building. Hanzman heard arguments on the future of the site.

Though some unit owners advocated for a memorial, others want the site to be rebuilt, and others prefer a hybrid of the two options. If a memorial site is chosen, Hanzman said, residents and owners will not be expected to donate the land for the memorial; rather, they should be compensated at fair market value.

The judge's main concern was speedy compensation: "This is not a case where we have time to let grass grow underneath it."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida condo collapse victims to receive at least $150M, judge says

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