Judge awards $70M to attorneys in $1B Surfside condo collapse settlement

A Miami-Dade judge has awarded more than $70 million to the more than 130 attorneys and staff who aided in class-action litigation related to the Surfside condominium collapse.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – A Miami-Dade judge has awarded more than $70 million to the more than 130 attorneys and staff who aided in class-action litigation related to the Surfside condominium collapse.

This represents the attorneys’ share of the more than $1 billion class action settlement that was reached earlier this year following the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in 2021, which killed 98 people.

More than 130 attorneys and staff worked more than 34,000 billable hours to reach the settlement.

“The families could not handle doing this every day for over a decade,” Martin Langesfeld, whose sister, Nicky, died in the collapse, said. “It was going to drain us physically, emotionally, mentally.”

Attorneys had requested roughly $100 million, however, Miami-Dade Judge Michael Hanzman approved the lesser proportion, making up about 7.5 percent of the total award.

“There were countless collateral issues in this case and If they weren’t handled properly, any one of them, and certainly all of them in combination, could have sent this train off the track any day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Hanzman said.

The request represented a discount of as much as $200 million compared to typical class-action suits.

“He awarded a reasonable fee, I know it sounds like a great deal of money, but you have no idea how many, thousands of hours we spent on this case,” attorney Stuart Grossman said.

Some families balked at that original request, as the attorneys’ fees come out of the settlement amount.

The judge praised the attorneys for securing a settlement so quickly. Lawyers took a risk on this case:

The settlement money came from 37 sources, including insurance companies and engineering firms.


About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.