Residents of the Champlain Towers South condominiums filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday, less than 24 hours after the building partially collapsed.
According to USA Today, the complaint was filed by the Brad Sohn Law Firm on behalf of nearby property owners and other victims of the tragic incident, which has left at least four people dead and more than 150 others missing. The suit alleges Champlain Towers Condominium Association—the management company for the 12-story building—failed to protect residents and visitors of the property “through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures, and oversight.” Plaintiffs are seeking $5 million in damages.
“According to public statements made by defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, ‘repair needs had been identified’ with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented,” the suit stated, “one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed.”
The defendants are also being sued for breach of contract, as the association reportedly signed an agreement with condo owners, promising to “maintain, repair and replace at the association’s own expense … all portions of the units … contributing to the support of the building, which portions should include but not limited to, the outside of the building and load bearing columns.”
The building partially collapsed at around 1:30 a.m Thursday, resulting in the destruction of 55 units located along the northeast corridor. The complex had a total of 136 units, and was built in the early 1980s in Miami-Dade County. Authorities continue to investigate the cause of the collapse, while emergency personnel search for other victims.
President Joe Biden has since authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in the response efforts, and has been in touch with Florida lawmakers.
“It’s a tough, tough time. There’s so many people waiting. Are they alive, will they be, what’ll happen? And so our heart goes out to them,” Biden said during a Friday White House event, as reported by CNN. “We’ve provided all the help that they have, they need. We sent the best people from (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) down there. We’re going to stay with them, with the disaster declaration we made, provide for everything from housing to, God forbid, whether there’s a need for (mortuaries) for the bodies to be placed. Everything in between.”