SURFSIDE, Fla. – More than half of the settlement in the civil case penalizing about 40 entities for the Surfside building collapse comes from a security company, attorneys familiar with the settlement said.
Securitas, the building’s security contractor, had a guard on duty on June 24, 2021, at Champlain Towers South. The guard called 911 about 10 minutes before the collapse but she didn’t activate the building-wide in-unit voice alarm.
“We claim she wasn’t trained to press the button, which if she did, there would have been ear-splitting shriek in your condo and you would have immediately left — and so some people’s lives might have been saved,” Attorney Harley S. Tropin said.
The other big chunk of the payout comes from those involved in the construction of a neighboring condo — the developers, engineers, and crews — whose work could have destabilized the building.
“It was fragile, but I don’t think it would have collapsed that night without help,” Tropin said.
Attorneys Rachel Furst and Tropin were the co-chairs of the team of plaintiffs’ attorneys that reached a $1.02 billion settlement in the class-action lawsuit after the Surfside building collapse.
For their work to secure the settlement, they are among the more than 130 attorneys who worked more than 34,000 hours and requested about $100 million in fees and costs.
“The most difficult, complicated case I have worked on — ever,” said Tropin, a partner at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in Coral Gables.
Furst, a partner at Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen in Coral Gables, agrees.
“Just the magnitude of the tragedy.”
They expect Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman to finalize the settlement and attorneys fees and costs on Thursday. Meetings to determine the distribution of the settlement will follow.
“I think you do it the way this judge has handled everything else -with empathy and grace and with an explanation,” Tropin said.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology investigation of the cause of the collapse that caused 98 deaths is ongoing.
Graphic: The aftermath of the collapse