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Lawyers for 20 families impacted by the collapse of a beachfront condo building in Florida were in court for the first time Wednesday — as court officials brace for a mountain of claims over the deadly incident.
The officials expect negligence and wrongful death lawsuits to pile up following the collapse of Champlain Tower South in Surfside and one judge has been assigned to be a “gatekeeper,” WPLG-TV reported.
The judge on Wednesday urged the slew of attorneys to pick someone to lead the pack.
“I got the best of the bar here but not everybody can have a leadership role and the faster you all realize that and try to reach some consensus, the faster we can move this along and try to get the victims some compensation,” Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman told the lawyers lined up before him.
Hanzman said the doomed building’s $48 million insurance coverage will likely fall far short of compensating victims of the collapse, in which 46 people have been confirmed dead and 94 remain missing.
“There’s not a sufficient amount of money in the world that can compensate for this,” the judge said, according to WPLG.
Most of the lawyers are volunteering their services, the station said.
“This is kind of an unprecedented kind of thing where everybody’s really on the same page just to try and help what we can do,” said attorney Brad Sohn.
The first suit was filed about 22 hours after the June 24 partial collapse of the building, a $5 million class-action claim from condo owner Manuel Drezner.
Drezner claimed that the condo association failed to “properly protect the lives and property” of himself and “others similarly situated.”
Others have followed, including a claim by the children of Harold Rosenberg, who was missing in the rubble, seeking permission to fly a drone over the site.
Also suing is Raysa Rodriguez, who escaped the tower with neighbors after the partial collapse and captured the harrowing experience in an audio recording.
“The court obviously needs to be a gatekeeper and administer things and ensure that obviously there aren’t 100 separate lawsuits in 100 different divisions of this courthouse,” attorney Jorge Silva, who represents several families, told WPLG on Wednesday.
“So, it all needs to be streamlined and that’s a beautiful job that Judge Hanzman is doing,” Silva said.
The Champlain condo association has declined to comment on pending litigation.
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