The lawsuit: Florida apartment collapse due to construction work
The construction of an adjacent luxury building has led to the collapse of an already fragile apartment complex in Florida, killing 98 people in June, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday on behalf of the Champlain Towers South victims and family members, maintains that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower has damaged and destabilized a building in dire need of major structural repair.
The lawsuit alleges that Champlain Towers “was an old building in need of routine repairs and maintenance, but that it wasn’t until excavation and construction began on a luxury high-rise condominium project next door” that the building became unsafe.
“The collapse was entirely possible,” the lawsuit says.
Champlain Towers was in the midst of a 40-year structural review when it collapsed without warning in the early morning hours of June 24. The collapse sparked several federal and state investigations and a host of lawsuits by victims, families and apartment owners.
The main investigative agency is the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which recently estimated it could take two years to investigate.
The lawsuit maintains that excavation, piling and other work at Eighty Seven Park between 2016 and 2019 caused vibrations that weakened the adjacent vibrating structure. In addition, groundwater from the new building was diverted to the basement of the Champlain Towers property after developers purchased a small driveway separating the two, the lawsuit says.
This latest 169-page complaint is a potential class action lawsuit that can represent all victims and their families. It was filed as part of a case in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court that also includes the planned sale of the Champlain Towers property to benefit the victims.
The lawsuit does not say a specific amount of damages, but it could run into hundreds of millions of dollars, according to attorneys involved in the case. The nine defendants include the developers of Eighty Seven Park, an engineering firm, the Champlain Towers South condo association and a Miami law firm.
The defendants denied that the construction of the Eighty-Seven Park was responsible for the collapse of the building. The 18-story Miami Beach building is located just south of the Champlain Towers site in Surfside.
Attorney David B.
“We expect a full review of the facts – and the ongoing investigation by NIST – to confirm our position,” Weinstein said in an email.