SURFSIDE, Fla. Lawyers lined up in a courtroom in Miami on Wednesday to volunteer to work for victims of the deadly building collapse, and by the end of the week, the number of lawsuits filed on behalf of the victims and their families had gathered.
The documents filed with the Miami-Dade Circuit Court are directed at any person or entity that may bear any responsibility for the deadly Champlain Towers South condo collapse or have information that could explain the cause of it.
More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the building’s owners’ association. Most recently, one was filed Friday on behalf of a 1
“There is no doubt that there is guilt, there is no doubt that there is unspeakable negligence,” said attorney Jorge Silva, who represents illegal victims and condominiums. “There is no doubt that this building screamed for years that this is exactly what would eventually happen.”
Silva filed a lawsuit on behalf of a client Thursday, naming 15 defendants, and he said he was open to adding more.
“We’re just in diapers here and we obviously want to take a lot of deposits,” Silva said. “More importantly, in the initial stages, we will seek to find many documents, and these documents may lead us in different directions to add other parties.”
Newly hired attorneys first target the building’s five insurance companies. While two have already volunteered to pay out their $ 3 million policy limits, lawyers told victims there is up to $ 48 million in insurance coverage yet to be addressed.
That’s just the beginning, and it will not be nearly enough to compensate the victims and their families, lawyers said. Some estimated that the disaster could amount to more than 1 billion. $ In compensation.
The number has created great interest in the legal community as well as a push for lawyers to work pro bono for Surfside victims.
Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman told a war of lawyers in his courtroom Wednesday that they would have to organize because there were so many of them hoping to participate in a series of lawsuits coming from the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.
“I got the best out of the bar here, but not everyone can have a leading role, and the sooner you all realize it and try to reach an agreement, the faster we can move this and try to get the victims compensation,” Hanzman said. the lawyers and added that he hoped they would consider working for free.
Some of these attorneys, including Silva, aim to do so and ensure that victims receive the legal assistance and representation they need to navigate individual litigation, as well as potential class action lawsuits.
Attorney Patrick Montoya is helping lead the prosecution in pro bono work, saying he has had several conversations with attorneys about free legal work for the victims’ families.
Montoya said he saw this moment as “Miami’s Sept. 11” and recalled when his own company raised its appeal to provide free legal work to the victims of the Sept. 11 attack. He said this was a similar call to action and he felt it was important to work to ensure that nothing like this happened again.
It was also an opportunity to act as a checkpoint for individuals, businesses, companies and developers who have allowed security inspections to fall to the roadside.
“If you are negligent and do not use reasonable care, this is what needs to happen,” Montoya said. “You’ll have to pay.”
Montoya’s clients, Eman Torre and Marixa Fusto, lost their elderly parents, Gonzalo and Maria Torre, in the crash. They said they were grateful they were able to obtain pro bono legal work, and said they hoped other attorneys would offer the same free service.
“We believe that through responsible litigation we can help implement changes to Florida’s tenancy rules and regulations to promote safety so that no family will ever have to go through what we have,” the siblings said in a statement.
The timeline for lawsuits is long, and Torre and Fusto said they remained focused on continuing work at the site of their parents’ former home. While their father’s body is recovered, search and rescue teams still have not found their mother.
“Our hearts remain broken,” they said, expressing gratitude to search and rescue personnel. “Until our mother is found and reunited with our father, we have no peace.”