Media outlets in Texas and around the country have played video footage of a Miami-area apartment building collapsing during the early morning hours of June 24. At least 12 people are known to have died in the disaster, and about 150 residents are listed as missing. The official investigation into the cause of the collapse will be launched once recuse workers leave the area, but evidence already available suggests that the building had severe structural deficiencies.
The Surfside condominium complex was built in 1980 when the Florida building code was not as strict as it is today. In 2018, a team of engineers inspected the building and found what they described as “major structural damage.” Their report described concrete cracking in the building’s parking garage and urged the building owners to make repairs. The report did not indicate what may have caused the cracking, but experts believe that exposure to salt in the air may have corroded reinforcement bars in the concrete. News of the report was enough to prompt some residents to file general personal injury lawsuits that accuse the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association of negligent and reckless conduct.
April 2021 letter
Media outlets have also reported that the building’s residents received a letter from the condominium association in April that said repairing the damage would cost about $15 million. The letter also states that the deterioration was getting progressively worse. Questions about the cause of the collapse were being raised as rescue workers combed through the wreckage. About 3 million pounds of concrete have already been removed from the scene, but the search for survivors has been slow and frustrating.
Premises liability lawsuits
To prevail in a general personal injury (premises liability) lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that his or her injuries were foreseeable and preventable. This means that the individual must show that the defendant knew about, or should have been aware of, a dangerous condition and failed to take adequate steps to address it. An experienced personal injury attorney could use evidence, like the letter and report linked to this tragedy, to meet this burden.