Champlain Towers Condo Collapse: Early Assessment of Causes, Contributing Factors in the Surfside Tragedy

What should have been a balmy seaside morning in Miami quickly turned to chaos, confusion, and horror on June 24, 2021 as a 12 story, 130 unit condominium Champlain Condominium building suddenly collapsed. Miami’s NBC affiliate News Channel 6 covered the incident, with at least one witness describing the Champlain Towers South Condo as falling flat like a pancake into a pile of rubble. First responders arrived from Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County  to assist with the search and rescue effort which will continue and be followed by a thorough investigation. The level of mass destruction demands a meticulous probe into how such a tragedy could happen.

The focus right now is on search and rescue, helping survivors, helping displaced residents and comforting families. In time, victims and their family members will want to understand their legal rights and remedies.  Many of the issues will revolve around Florida premises liability concepts, potential violations of the Florida Building Code, and other details which will depend upon the results of officials’ investigation. At Gerson and Schwartz, our hearts go out to all victims and those affected. We continue to investigate and gather information. Still, here is a summary of the information available now.

Updated Facts on the Champlain Condo Building Collapse in Surfside

From all accounts, the search and rescue effort has been diligent and persistent. Crews worked through Thursday night into Friday morning, at which point officials announced the results so far: Four individuals were pronounced dead, while 159 remain unaccounted for. Other details that became available Friday morning include:

  • Champlain Towers was the defendant in a 2015 lawsuit filed by a condo resident, which alleged that the structure’s outer walls were not being maintained.
  • The building’s manager noted that most condo units were occupied, so the death toll and number of injured victims will likely rise.
  • Crews have been able to rescue 37 people, some of whom were transported to local emergency rooms with critical and life-threatening injuries.
  • There is a general consensus among structural engineers that structures exposed to salt air tend to corrode and deteriorate at a higher rate. Issues can be avoided with proper maintenance, highlighting the importance of regular inspections and maintenance.
  • Contractors had recently completed repairs to the roof at the condo unit, though there is no current link between the work and the building collapse.

Potential Legally Responsible Parties in a Lawsuit and Wrongful Death Claim

Without the details of a full investigation, it is not possible to describe exact legal remedies for victims and their families. Initially, it would appear that there is a cause of action under premises liability and negligent design and construction in which a property owner can be held accountable for failure to maintain the space in a safe condition. Potential parties in such a claim may include:

  • The owner of the building
  • The Condo Association
  • Building Inspectors
  • Architects involved in the original design and construction
  • Consulting Engineers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Any company hired to handle inspections and property management
  • Contractors retained to conduct inspections and make repairs;
  • Construction Companies working nearby and developing new high rises adjacent to the property
  • Any other parties that have ownership, management or control over the premises.

Contact A Miami Premises Liability Attorney for More Information

The Miami personal injury lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA  continue to monitor the tragedy at Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside. We extend our condolences to all lives lost and to those affected by this tragedy. For more information on premises liability concepts,contact our firm to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.

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