- A new lawsuit says the construction of a high-rise next door to the collapsed Florida condo led to the deadly tragedy.
- Construction of Eighty Seven Park “damaged and destabilized” Champlain Towers South, the suit claims.
- An attorney for the neighboring building’s developers fiercely denied the allegations.
The construction of a luxury building next door to the collapsed Florida condo tower triggered the June tragedy that killed nearly 100 people, a new class-action lawsuit states.
The suit — filed Tuesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of victims, their family members and survivors of Surfside’s Champlain Towers South collapse — alleges that construction of the nearby Eighty Seven Park building from 2016 to 2019 “damaged and destabilized” the 12-story condo that collapsed.
Champlain Towers South “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, known as ‘Eighty-Seven Park,’ that [Champlain Towers South] became so badly damaged and destabilized as to be unsafe,” the 169-page lawsuit says.
Developers of the 18-story Eighty Seven Park “undertook destructive excavation and site work dangerously close” to Champlain Towers South, which partially collapsed in the early morning of June 24.
“The collapse was entirely preventable,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that the developers behind Eighty Seven Park “sloped their project so that water poured into” the Champlain Towers South “and corroded its structural supports, and drove sheet piles 40 feet (12.19m) into the ground, causing tremors and vibrations at such high levels that they cracked tiles and walls at [Champlain Towers South] and shook the structure.”
The suit — which names names nine defendants, including the developers and engineers for Eighty Seven Park, the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, as well as engineering firm Morabito Consultants, which Champlain Towers had hired to perform inspections for the building’s 40-year recertification — was filed as part of an existing case related to the collapse.
Attorney David Weinstein, who is representing 8701 Collin Development, LLC, the developer for Eighty Seven Park, told Insider on Wednesday that the developer “categorically denies” that the building’s construction had anything to do with the collapse of the Champlain Towers South.
“The construction of Eighty Seven Park did not cause or contribute in any way to the tragic events of June 24, 2021, notwithstanding unfounded allegations to the contrary,” Weinstein said in a statement.
The lawyer added: “As numerous media reports have documented, Champlain Towers South was improperly designed, poorly constructed, significantly underfunded, and inadequately maintained and repaired. We expect that a full review of the facts — and the ongoing investigation by NIST — will affirm our position.”
Any vibrations that occurred during the construction of Eighty Seven Park “were well below the maximum threshold for safe vibrations levels for residential structures and were generated from work that was completed more than five years prior to the collapse,” Weinstein said.
Michael Thomas, another attorney for the developer, said his client “did not cause any damage to structural elements of Champlain Towers South” and that the collapsed condo “was plagued for decades by flooding and other water intrusion issues on its pool, deck, privacy wall, and parking garage.”
Meanwhile, the developers behind Eighty Seven Park were among the defendants named in another lawsuit related to the collapse that was also filed this week.
The construction of Eighty Seven Park “caused the concrete foundation” of Champlain Towers South “to become weakened and dangerous, creating a hazard to the public and their property, including the deceased,” that lawsuit filed on Monday states.
Numerous warning signs preceding the Champlain Towers South collapse were revealed in the aftermath of the tragedy.
In 2015, a resident of the condo filed a lawsuit alleging that one of the building’s outer walls had not been maintained properly.
Three years later, Morabito Consultants found signs of “major structural damage” and evidence of “abundant” cracking and fragmentation of the columns, beams, and walls in the garage under condo complex, according to a 2018 inspection report.
And two months before the collapse, the president of the condo association raised the alarm that conditions in the building’s basement garage were worsening.
Reps for the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association and Morabito Consultants did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Insider on Wednesday.