Judge postpones Surfside trial date to March 2023


Justice Michael Hanzman spoke at a hearing last year to discuss litigation related to the collapse of the Champlain South Towers.

Justice Michael Hanzman spoke at a hearing last year to discuss litigation related to the collapse of the Champlain South Towers.

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Victims of the Surfside condominium collapse will have to wait more than a year – at least until March 2023 – for a lawsuit over their class action lawsuit, the judge in charge of the case has ruled.

Judge Michael Hanzman, who has tried to keep the case on a fast track, said he was disappointed his original plan to schedule a trial for the end of the summer had to be delayed. Lawyers argued that this was not a realistic timeline given the pace of investigations into the cause of the June 24 collapse that killed 98 people at Champlain Towers South, and the complications associated with the collection of evidence and depositions.

“It’s six months later than I had hoped, and justice delayed is justice denied, for both victims and defendants,” Hanzman said at a Zoom status hearing on Wednesday. “So you better call your experts. This tribunal does not work a reckless schedule. You schedule your depositions and you make your discovery.

On another note, the date of February 4 has been set for an in-person mediation session to discuss how funds should be allocated to surviving landlords, relatives of the deceased, tenants and visitors. who were in the 136-unit building when it partially collapsed at 1:22 a.m.

Hanzman is counting on court-appointed mediator Bruce Greer to advance a dispute over how the money should be divided. At stake is at least $ 120 million for the sale of the property, $ 50 million in insurance coverage and millions more in negligence claims against various defendants. Design flaws, construction shortcuts, poor maintenance and delayed refurbishment by the condo board of directors and the construction of a luxury condo next door are among the factors cited by engineers and the lawyers who examined the fall of the 13-story tower.

“Let’s understand that there is no perfect solution,” Hanzman said. “It’s a limited fund business. The last thing the court wants to do is settle a dispute between victims who have lost units and those who have lost their lives. “

Miami Herald

All those involved in the mediation are encouraged to complete a Complaints Questionnaire, including tenants with content complaints. He reiterated his goal of settling economic loss claims quickly so that these victims can be compensated, opt out of the class action lawsuit and “get their lives back in hand” when the focus is on wrongful death claims.

“Most people have content insurance,” Hanzman said, referring to the “pots and pans” destroyed in the rubble.

His comments struck a chord with some survivors.

“I blame you a lot for what you said,” said Sharon Schechter, who was a tenant. “I didn’t just lose utensils. I lost everything I owned my whole life. I had insurance for a few thousand dollars to secure my lease. I never thought it would happen in a million years. It was all I had, not just knives and forks.

Hanzman responded by saying, “I didn’t mean to offend you.

“But let me give you a dose of reality. We must prioritize. It’s a limited pot of money. You need to understand where your claim may end up in the pecking order between 98 people who have perished and 136 homeowners who have lost their homes.

Linda Robertson has written on a variety of exciting topics during an award-winning career. As a sports columnist, she has covered 13 Olympics, Final Four, World Cups, Wimbledon, Heat and Hurricanes, Super Bowls, Soul Bowls, Cuban defectors, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lance Armstrong, Tonya Harding. She golfed with Donald Trump, fished with Jimmy Johnson, learned a magic trick from Muhammad Ali, and teamed up with Venus Williams to defeat Serena. She now recounts our love-hate relationship with Miami, where she grew up.


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