By Chuck Johnston and Jamiel Lynch, CNN
A tentative settlement worth nearly $1 billion has been reached with multiple entities over the collapse last year of a residential building in Surfside, Florida, that killed 98 people, according to an attorney for plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit.
Harley Tropin, one of the plaintiffs’ lead attorneys, announced the decision during a hearing Wednesday.
The proposal still needs final approval from Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman.
A large portion of the Champlain Towers South building collapsed in the middle of the night on June 24, 2021. The victims ranged in age from 1 to 92 years old.
“We’re pleased to give this recovery to the victims which we think is extremely meaningful and a big step to bringing them closure to this horrible tragedy,” Tropin told CNN.
The entities in the proposed settlement include the condo association, the city of Surfside, and engineering, architectural and other companies involved in the development and maintenance of the property and neighboring developments.
Judge Hanzman, who described the speed with which the settlement was reached as “beyond extraordinary,” said he hoped to close the case legally by the first anniversary of the collapse.
The proposed settlement could also grow larger as there are still efforts to reach an agreement with one other company, an attorney for the plaintiffs said.
Earlier this year, an $83 million settlement was announced for the owners who lost property in the collapse, to be paid by the condo association’s insurer and sale of the property.
Mayor of Surfside Shlomo Danzinger told CNN though the city was not a defendant in the case, it had preemptively agreed to put $2 million into the settlement pot.
“While the settlement will help families with a lot of the financial burdens and stress, it’s important to note that no amount of money could ever be considered adequate compensation for the loss of life,” he said in a separate statement to CNN.
Tropin said that within the next few weeks the judge will sign off on the settlement breakdown and it will be sent to the families of the victims who can either choose to opt-in or out. After a final fairness hearing, those who opt-in will be able to file claims, he said.
He said he felt the settlement would bring closure for many, but he understood for some that may not be enough.
“I don’t think anyone will be unhappy with the settlement,” Tropin said. “What they are unhappy with is the tragedy and the settlement does not address that. It does enable them to not be involved for years with litigation.”
The victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse were from all over the world and the grief touched members of a tight-knit Jewish community in South Florida as well as families from as far away as Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia.
Crews carried out rescue and recovery efforts for weeks, combing through rubble and debris while the families and loved ones of victims waited for information.
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CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.