A Florida judge granted preliminary approval Saturday to a nearly $1 billion settlement for the relatives of those killed in the Surfside, Florida, condominium collapse last year.
Victims' families reached a $1.02 billion settlement agreement Friday, their attorneys announced after filing a court motion seeking Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman's initial approval to allow the settlement to proceed.
“It is a great result," Hanzman said during a court hearing, per the Associated Press. “This was a very contested deal.”
VICTIMS OF FLORIDA CONDO COLLAPSE REACH $997 MILLION SETTLEMENT
The agreement could help avert years of litigation over the 12-story Champlain Towers South building collapse that killed 98 people. Under the terms of the settlement, the victims' families will have to file claims to attain the money, and the fund will not be evenly split, CBS Miami reported.
In tandem with that settlement for the victims' families, those who saw their homes and property destroyed in the collapse will split a $96 million fund, reports said.
A developer from the United Arab Emirates is expected to purchase the site for $120 million, which will help fund the settlement, according to reports. Additional sources of money come from engineering companies, insurance companies, and a nearby condominium, but none of the parties has confessed wrongdoing in the fateful collapse, the cause of which is being investigated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
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Relatives involved with the settlement have until June 16 to opt out, and then a week later, Hanzman will hold a follow-up hearing to see whether there are any objections to the deal. If some of the victims' families opt out, they can continue to sue in pursuit of their individual claims, but an attorney for the victims' families argued defendants should have "complete peace" they won't be sued again by those who accept the deal.
If all goes to plan, the money should start being delivered in September.