The Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed on June 24, 2021
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Relatives of those killed in one of the deadliest structural building failures in American history have agreed a settlement of almost $1 billion, at the end of an accelerated judicial process designed to bring rapid closure to the families.

The $997 million payout for the Surfside, Florida tragedy was announced in a Miami court hearing on Wednesday, overseen by Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman.

Family members of the 98 people who died in the June 2021 horror sued the building’s insurers, developers of a neighboring apartment building, an engineering firm that warned of the tower’s structural issues, and other defendants.

The case was settled in unusually quick fashion, and was the final payout was significantly higher than predicted.

The initial pool of insurance money to settle both claims for victims who lost their homes and those who lost family members was $50 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The land on which the 12-story Champlain South tower sat has been sold for $120 million.

The Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed on June 24, 2021

The Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed on June 24, 2021

The tower collapse left 98 people dead, and is one of America's worse ever structural failures

The tower collapse left 98 people dead, and is one of America’s worse ever structural failures

Rescuers are pictured on June 27 sifting through the rubble in the search for survivors

Rescuers are pictured on June 27 sifting through the rubble in the search for survivors

Hanzman said he wanted the insurance proceeds to go to the victims rather than be used in legal fees from protracted litigation.

‘It was as difficult a case as one gets,’ Judge Hanzman said during Wednesday’s hearing.

‘For results like this to happen a lot of things have to break your way.’

The 40-year-old building with some 136 apartments collapsed before dawn, when many residents were asleep.

The devastating scenes shocked the nation, and frightened millions of people living in aging condo buildings.

Structural engineers had issued minor warnings, but nothing of serious concern, and there were no mitigating factors like extreme weather to cause the collapse.

The Champlain Tower building is seen before the tragedy

The Champlain Tower building is seen before the tragedy

The remaining apartments were demolished on July 4 (pictured) in a controlled explosion

The remaining apartments were demolished on July 4 (pictured) in a controlled explosion

Plaintiff attorneys had always sought the sum close to $1 billion, but attorneys thought the settlement overly ambitious.

Lawyers for the residents and their relatives said the units lost ranged in valued from about $400,000 to about $2.9 million, and the settlement needed to include compensation for trauma and potential punitive damages a jury might award.

Attorneys at the hearing didn’t disclose the breakdown of how much individual defendants were paying as part of the settlement.

The lawsuit also contended that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized a building in dire need of major structural repair.

Champlain Towers, the lawsuit claims, ‘was an older building in need of routine repairs and maintenance, but it was not until excavation and construction began on the luxury high-rise condominium project next door’ that the building became unsafe.

‘The collapse was entirely preventable,’ the lawsuit says.

In November, a lawyer for the developers of Eighty Seven Park denied being responsible.

‘The construction of Eighty Seven Park did not cause or contribute in any way to the tragic events of June 24, 2021, notwithstanding unfounded allegations to the contrary,’ said David B. Weinstein, a lawyer for the development team behind Eighty Seven Park, at the time. 

They have not commented on the settlement. 

Many families wanted a memorial to be constructed on the grounds of the building’s South tower, but their plans were foiled when the property was sold for $120 million.

A total of 55 apartments in the 136-unit condo complex collapsed, with around 80 percent of the building reportedly being occupied. 

Officials said at the time they believed the building had been ‘substantially full.’ 

Friends and family of New Yorker Estelle Hedaya, 54, said they received so little of the victim’s remains that they could easily lift her casket. 

‘I could have lifted it with my pinkie,’ her best friend Lisa Shrem told the Washington Post. 

After the initial recovery effort at the site was complete, officials moved the rubble to a location 14 miles from the condos, near Miami International Airport. 

The rubble has been separated into two piles, based on supposed value of the evidence it might hold. 

The portions that crews have determined to contain possible remains are moved inside a warehouse, while the rest is left outside. 

Relatives of the victims embrace on July 15 during a candlelit vigil for those who died

Relatives of the victims embrace on July 15 during a candlelit vigil for those who died

Mourners on June 27 stop by the makeshift memorial for the 98 who died

Mourners on June 27 stop by the makeshift memorial for the 98 who died

Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, the youngest of the three siblings, lived on the eighth floor, in Unit 802, with his wife Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and their 11-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, Lucia and Emma. All were killed in the collapse

Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, the youngest of the three siblings, lived on the eighth floor, in Unit 802, with his wife Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and their 11-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, Lucia and Emma. All were killed in the collapse

So little of New Yorker Estelle Hedaya's remains were found in the collapse of the Surfside condo in Miami. Her best friend Lisa Shrem said: 'I could have lifted it [her casket] with my pinkie'

So little of New Yorker Estelle Hedaya’s remains were found in the collapse of the Surfside condo in Miami. Her best friend Lisa Shrem said: ‘I could have lifted it [her casket] with my pinkie’

A woman adds flowers to the memorial on June 28

A woman adds flowers to the memorial on June 28

The county has requested a judge’s permission to dispose of debris they consider irrelevant to the investigation. 

‘It’s very sad to hear how Miami-Dade County wants to throw everything away in the trash and make us forget and move past this,’ said Martin Langesfeld, 24, who lost his twin sister, Nicole, and her new husband, Luis Sadovnic, 28, in the collapse.

‘They were people with families and emotions. And they cannot be thrown away with trash.’ 

Many families aren’t convinced all the remains have been found. 

Throughout the four searches, crews continued to produce more and more remains. 

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