American News Jun 25, 2021 9:22 PM EST

Surfside condo owners file $5 million lawsuit against building association after fatal collapse

On Friday, condo owners at the Champlain Towers building in Surfside, Florida, filed a class action lawsuit over the building's collapse.

Surfside condo owners file $5 million lawsuit against building association after fatal collapse
Beth Baumann The Post Millennial
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On Friday, condo owners at the Champlain Towers building in Surfside, Florida, filed a class action lawsuit over the building's collapse.

The lawsuit, brought about by condo owner Manuel Drezner, claims the building's association is responsible for failing to "secure and safeguard the lives and property" of those that lived there, NPR reported.

"According to public statements made by Defendant's attorney Ken Direktor, 'repair needs had been identified' with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed," the lawsuit states, according to a report from Local 10 News.

The lawsuit says the condo association was negligent and failed "to take adequate and reasonable measures to ensure the safety and protection of its residents and their property, failing to disclose to its residents and visitors that it did not have adequate safety measures in place" to protect residents.

The plaintiffs are seeking $5 million in damages, although attorney Brad Sohn, whose firm filed the lawsuit, says the amount is based on court filing requirements.

"Important point to clarify re #condocollapselawsuit : the reference to a specific dollar amount is a requirement in filing a lawsuit but that number has ZERO relationship to the what will be sought," Sohn tweeted.

Before the collapse took place, Shimon Wdowinski, an earth and science professor at Florida International University, detected issues with the building. He conducted a research study last year and determined that the building "has been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s," USA Today reported. The tower was originally constructed in 1981. "I looked at it this morning and said, 'Oh my god." We did detect that," Wdowinski recounted after the collapse.

This isn't the first time the tower has had structural issues. According to USA Today, a 2015 lawsuit accused building managers of failing "to maintain an outside wall, resulting in water damage and cracks."

Court records, according to the outlet, indicate the management company compensated the previous owner for damage, although the amount is unclear.

Emergency personnel continue to search for survivors in the aftermath of the collapse. The latest tally has four people dead and 159 unaccounted for.

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