Construction of a luxury building next door triggered the collapse of a fragile Florida condominium that killed 98 people, a new lawsuit argues. The suit, filed on behalf of Champlain Towers South victims and family members, contends that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized a building in dire need of major structural repair, the AP reports. Champlain Towers, the lawsuit says, "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. Champlain Towers was in the process of its 40-year structural review when it collapsed without warning on June 24. The collapse has triggered multiple federal and state investigations and a flurry of lawsuits by victims, families, and condo owners. The lead investigating agency is the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which recently estimated its work could take two years. The lawsuit contends that excavation, pile-driving, and other work at Eighty Seven Park between 2016 and 2019 caused vibrations that weakened the shaky structure next door.
In addition, groundwater was funneled from the new building to the Champlain Towers property basement after developers bought a small road separating the two, the lawsuit says. The defendants denied that construction of Eighty Seven Park was responsible for the building collapse. "As numerous media reports have documented, Champlain Towers South was improperly designed, poorly constructed, significantly underfunded, and inadequately maintained and repaired," said attorney David Weinstein, who represents 8701 Collins Development. This latest 169-page complaint is a potential class action that could represent all victims and their families. It does not cite a specific amount of damages.
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