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Florida Condo Was Being Upgraded When It Collapsed

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

On Thursday, June 24, a condo in Surfside, Florida suffered a “pancake” collapse – where the collapse starts at the top and continues straight through to the ground floor – killing one resident, injuring 10, and leaving 99 residents unaccounted for thus far.

The pictures coming out of the Miami-Dade area are apocalyptic looking: an entire section of the 12-story condo has been reduced to rubble, and search-and-rescue teams are desperately trying to reach any survivors. The Wall Street Journal reports that it is too soon to determine a cause of the collapse.

According to Local 10 News, the building was undergoing roof repairs at the time of the collapse, as part of a 40-year recertification process that is required for all buildings in South Florida. While it appears unlikely to officials that the work on the roof caused the building to fall, construction being done next door may have contributed. Surfside Commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10:

This building has been under a lot of scrutiny lately with the 40-year recertification of the building and with the 88 Park building going up next door to the south. There were garage underground issues related to that, to make sure that it was done soundly. And, to my understanding, there were some cracks from that project — minor cracks — that were just patched up. Nothing, based on my understanding, to the magnitude that would indicate that there was a structural problem that could result in something so catastrophic.

Aging infrastructure requires more aggressive maintenance and care

As any news station will tell you, Congress is working on an infrastructure bill – and that bill is desperately needed. Older buildings, especially those close to coastlines, need extensive care and maintenance. Exposure to water, whether from the ocean or from the hurricanes that come more quickly and more often than ever these days, can do terrible damage to buildings of any age.

Further, older buildings are not up to modern safety codes. They are especially vulnerable to high winds, earthquakes, and fires, and the electrical work can be compromised when more and more people star tapping into that power source. The condo was built in 1981, long before the average family had multiple TVs, multiple cell phones, and multiple home appliances that ran on electricity. All of these can cause a short in the wires, contributing to the risk of fire.

Finally, without proper care, the risk to the foundation of an older building is great. Soils that shift over time (due to erosion) or dry out (due to drought) can cause foundational cracks. Expansive soils, like those found in the middle of Georgia and throughout much of the Gulf Coast, can also lead to cracked foundations.

Building collapse claims require experienced counsel

A building collapse claim is a world away from a typical premises liability claim. These are complex litigation claims involving multiple (sometimes hundreds) of people, many of whom are looking to shift blame and avoid responsibility. Harris Lowry Manton LLP has the resources, experience, and skills to handle these types of claims. Not only do we have years of experience handling injury claims resulting from faulty construction, but we also have a vast network of field experts who can assist with:

  • Reviewing blueprints
  • Taking soil samples
  • Identifying problems with construction materials
  • Property valuation
  • Contents losses
  • Medical evaluations

Who can be held liable for a building collapse?

Depending on what the investigation finds, there could be multiple liable parties:

  • The condo association if it failed to maintain its property
  • The company doing roof repairs if that triggered the collapse
  • The construction company working on the neighboring site if they caused foundation damage
  • The manufacturers of any building materials
  • A third party who may have been involved in causing the collapse

When you work with Harris Lowry Manton LLP, you work with a team that has the skills, experience, and resources to handle complex litigation arising from catastrophic events like building collapses. We have fought national insurance companies and won, securing millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.

To learn more about our services, or to discuss your options, please call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or reach out to us through our contact page to schedule a free consultation.


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