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Surfside’s wrongful death fund has been boosted by $53 million

Judge Michael Hanzman speaks during a hearing to discuss the litigation related to the Champlain Towers South collapse at the Miami-Dade Children's Courthouse on July 14, 2021.

Judge Michael Hanzman speaks during a hearing to discuss the litigation related to the Champlain Towers South collapse at the Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse on July 14, 2021.

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A fire alarm company, a security alarm monitoring company and a swimming pool contractor have settled for about $1 million each in the class action lawsuit against the Surfside condo collapse, according to a Miami-Dade District Court filing Wednesday.

In addition, a $50 million settlement from homebuilder Champlain Towers South will be shifted from compensating condominium owners for their financial losses to the Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims Fund.

The $53 million from the four defendants’ insurers totals nearly $1.1 billion, the second largest in Florida legal history, after just $11.3 billion in a 1997 Big Tobacco settlement.

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The former Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial is pictured July 16, 2021. The temporary memorial wall along Harding Avenue in Surfside was demolished in August 2021 for preservation. MATIAS J.OCNER [email protected]

In the early morning of June 24, 2021, two sections of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South building collapsed, killing 98 people.

The resulting complex litigation was led by District Judge Michael Hanzman, who is now conducting hearings with the deceased’s family and survivors with personal injury claims to determine how the settlement money will be allocated.

About three dozen organizations have agreed to settle lawsuits and avoid lawsuits.

To reimburse owners of the building’s 136 units for their property losses in a separate settlement fund, the condominium company’s $50 million in liability and property insurance was originally allocated there. To offset the $50 million now allocated to the Wrongful Death Fund, an equal amount from the proceeds from the sale of the now vacant property will be transferred to the property owners’ fund. Attorneys on the case are seeking up to $100 million in payment from the wrongful death fund for their work over the past 14 months.

Premier Fire Alarms and Integration Systems, Central Alarm Control and Infinite Aqua, the swimming pool company, have settled for a total of $3 million.

The company paying the largest portion of the wrongful death settlement, at $517.5 million, is Securitas Security Services USA. The company’s employees were tasked with providing security guard duty, monitoring visitors in the lobby, and operating the building’s security system in the event of an emergency, including the alarm panel at the front desk to warn residents. A Securitas executive admitted in an affidavit that the guard, who worked the night shift on June 24, had not been trained to activate the system.

READ MORE: Judge gives final approval for ‘remarkable’ $1 billion Surfside condo collapse settlement

The Hallandale Beach-based premier installed the fire alarm system in 2017. The premier’s president, Matthew Haiman, told the Herald last year that the system was working properly that night, although survivors said they had in the seven minutes after the collapse of the Garage but heard nothing before the tower fell.

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Teams search for survivors in the ruins of Champlain Towers South. AL DIAZ [email protected]

On Wednesday, Premier owner Matthew Haiman called “frivolous” any article that suggested the company’s fire protection system had failed. A person who answered the phone at the central alarm center said he did not want to comment. A call to Infinite Aqua went unanswered.

As with previous settlements, there is no admission of negligence or responsibility.

The developers of the Eighty Seven Park luxury condo that was being built next door, and the project’s engineers, architects and related parties involved in the construction, contributed another large portion of the development, totaling about $400 million. Your payments by insurance carriers were also not an admission of responsibility or negligence.

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Linda Robertson has written on a variety of compelling subjects throughout her award-winning career. As a sports columnist, she has covered 13 Olympics, Final Fours, 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 with Venus Williams to defeat Serena. She’s now chronicling our love-hate relationship with Miami, where she grew up.

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