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Judge says preserving evidence critical to getting to bottom of Surfside collapse

Surfside land still considering a crime scene, but soon, Miami-Dade County is expected to turn over possession to a court-appointed receiver.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – A Miami-Dade Circuit Judge said Wednesday that preserving the evidence is critical to understanding why the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed and to protecting the legal rights of victims and others.

Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing that evidence will be available to determine the cause of the June 24 oceanfront condo collapse, as well as for lawsuits filed in the aftermath.

[RELATED: Newly released bodycam video shows confusion after Surfside building collapse]

The 12-story condominium building in Surfside collapsed for unknown reasons, killing 98 people and leaving dozens more homeless. Hanzman says the lawsuits will be combined into a single class action affecting everyone with claims, including renters who lost possessions.

Meanwhile, Michael Goldberg, a court-appointed receiver, updated the judge on insurance companies that have paid to compensate victims.

“We’ve received $1 million from Philadelphia, $2 million from James River. The big change,” he said, “is we also received $10.3 million last week from Fireman’s Fund, which is now in the bank and collected.”

Currently, the land is still considered a crime scene, but in three weeks, the county is expected to turn over possession of the property to the court-appointed receiver. The receiver will then coordinate with the plaintiffs’ lawyers, defense lawyers and government entities so that they may access the site and complete their investigations.

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