A Florida judge said on Wednesday that victims and families of the June 24 Florida condo collapse that killed nearly 100 people would receive $ 150 million to begin with.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said in a hearing the amount would include $ 50 million in insurance and at least $ 100 million from the sale of the Champlain Towers South site, which has was ordered earlier this month.
“The concern of the court has always been the victims here,” Hanzman said. “Their rights will be protected.”
Hanzman noted that the victims of the collapse include tenants and visitors to the property, not just condominium owners.
The collapse of the building, which left at least 97 dead and others missing, triggered several lawsuits from victims and families. Hanzman had previously authorized the dispatch of these lawsuits and ordered the payments to be expedited.
On Wednesday, the judge said the lawsuits would be consolidated into a class action suit and the $ 150 million in compensation would not be drawn from those lawsuits.
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The decision came as the site of the building collapse was almost completely cleared of rubble on Wednesday. The debris is stored in a warehouse and vacant lots, to be kept for prosecution and further investigation.
While authorities have not determined the cause of the building’s collapse, concerns have been raised about possible structural damage to the 40-year-old condominium in the past. Hanzman also heard arguments about what the future of the site should be.
While some unit owners have argued for a memorial site, others want the site rebuilt and others still prefer a hybrid of the two options. If a memorial site is chosen, Hanzman said residents and owners will not be required to donate the land for the memorial; rather, they should be remunerated at their fair market value.
The judge’s main concern was prompt compensation, adding: “This is not a case where we have time to let the grass grow underneath.”
Contribute: The Associated Press.