Updated on July 9, 2021
Early on June 24, 2021, the right wing of Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed, leaving dozens injured and at least 60 people dead. The death toll may continue to rise as recovery efforts continue, with 80 people still unaccounted for, according to Local 10 News.
Chalik & Chalik has filed its first case on behalf of the estate of Ana Ortiz, 46, who passed away with her husband and son in the June 24th collapse of the Surfside condominium. The complaint alleges negligence against Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, Scott Stewart, and Morabito Consultants for Ms. Ortiz’s untimely death.
Chalik & Chalik Allege Negligence Against the Condo Company and Consulting Firm
In a complaint filed on July 6th, our firm alleges that the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, onsite property manager Scott Stewart, and engineering firm Morabito Consultants were negligent in their responsibilities to protect residents like Ms. Ortiz and her family. The complaint also charges the condominium association and Mr. Stewart with gross negligence.
The complaint cites a 2018 report by Morabito Consultants, which details “failed waterproofing…causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab” beneath “the Pool Deck and Entrance Drive.” The complaint also cites a report by a pool contractor who documented water intrusion in the parking garage three days prior to the building’s collapse.
Representing Josephina Henriquez for Ms. Ortiz’s estate, Chalik & Chalik is seeking damages in excess of $1,000,000 for the death of Ms. Ortiz. Co-founder Jason Chalik said of the incident: “For our firm, one that believes strongly in the fundamental importance of community, we can think of no greater priority than bringing justice for those who are suffering—so needlessly and for no other reason than sheer negligence.”
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What Survivors Had to Say About the Building’s Collapse
One of Champlain Towers South’s most notable residents is former Surfside vice mayor Barry Cohen. Cohen, who had lived in the building for three years, had his own suspicions about the building’s integrity when he noticed cracked pavers around the complex’s pool. He awoke in the middle of the night to what he described as “the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Cohen told CNN that upon opening his front door: “There was nothing there. It was just a pile of dust and rubble and paint falling from the ceilings… It must have been 20 minutes; it felt like a lifetime that we were still stuck in this apartment on the balcony… I thought the whole building was going to collapse.”
Cohen is not the only resident with a harrowing account of events. The Associated Press (AP) was also on the scene interviewing survivors. Jennifer Carr, who was awakened by what she thought was thunder, soon realized that the situation was dire. She was able to escape her home just minutes before the building imploded.
“It was devastation,” Carr said as she watched her home collapse. “People were running and screaming.”
Resources for People Affected by the Champlain Towers Building Collapse
If you or someone you loved was involved in the collapse, you can visit the Surfside reunification center, which is for families who are still searching for loved ones. The reunification center is located at Surfside Recreation Center: 9301 Collins Avenue.
Here are some other steps that you can take during this trying time:
Complete a Wellness Check
Miami-Dade County is asking anyone who was involved in the collapse to complete a wellness check online. The seven-part form asks that you include your name, phone number, and whether all of your family members are accounted for.
Report Any Missing Loved Ones
Miami-Dade is asking that you call (305) 614-1819 if any of your family members are missing. Upon calling, you will be connected to Miami’s Missing Persons Hotline.
Follow Along on Twitter
As more information becomes available, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Twitter is delivering updates. You do not need an account to view their posts. The organization notes that if you have an emergency related to the building collapse, please call 911.
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What Happens Now?
As of July 8th, The Washington Post reports that the rescue operation has become a recovery operation for the remaining people thought to be missing at the collapsed condo. More than seven million pounds of concrete have been removed from the site, but approximately 80 people still remain unaccounted for.
The tragedy also has brought a focus on similar conditions at other buildings throughout Florida. The New York Times reports that Florida’s strict high-rise building regulations have been unevenly enforced by local governments. Further steps must be taken to avoid a repeat of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.
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The Attorneys at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help the Surfside Community
Our firm remains committed to helping the community recover from this tragedy. If you or a loved one suffered losses because of the Surfside building collapse, you can reach out to our personal injury attorneys serving Miami today for your free consultation.
Call or text Chalik & Chalik (855) 529-0269