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Nation & World

Surfside, Fla., Condo Owners Are Suing The Collapsed Building's Association

A man prays near where search and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla.
A man prays near where search and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla.

Owners of units in the Champlain Towers South condo complex near Miami have filed a class-action lawsuit after their building partially collapsed on Thursday. As of Friday morning, 159 people remain unaccounted for as rescue crews work at the scene.

The owners say the condo association failed to "secure and safeguard the lives and property" of plaintiff Manuel Drezner and other owners, according to the complaint filed by the Brad Sohn Law Firm.

The class-action suit "seeks to compensate the victims of this unfathomable loss," the court document says, showing an aerial photo of the partially collapsed building. The suit seeks damages that exceed $5 million, with a specific amount to be determined during a trial.

The 40-year-old condo had been in the process of undergoing a recertification process, having hired an engineer to analyze the building.

The lawsuit quotes public statements made by Kenneth Direktor, who represents the condo association, saying that "repair needs had been identified" in the building's structure before its horrific collapse.

The association did not reply to NPR's repeated requests for comment on the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that the catastrophe could have been prevented "through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures, and oversight." It also accuses the condo association of failing to disclose information about safety measures and oversight as well as failing to monitor the building's stability.

"This is devastating, and I have already learned some additional information that is stunning," Brad Sohn told NPR on Friday. He did not provide details about that new information.

In addition to the building's owners, Sohn said he anticipates representing renters as well. And he said there will likely be injury-related lawsuits as well.

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