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Building Collapse Attorneys
Storms, structural damage, construction, renovations and negligence can all contribute to catastrophic building failure, property damage, injury and death.
Let us help you hold those responsible for your loss. No amount of money can help you regain what has been taken away, but we can make sure you and your family are financially supported and compensated for this travesty.
Be on the side of justice and help us make sure this doesn’t happen to another family. Contact John Bales Attorneys for a free consultation. If we take on your case, you pay nothing until if/when we win you a settlement or verdict for compensation in your favor.
You focus on healing. We’ll focus on holding negligent parties responsible for their actions.
Major Structural Damage Revealed in Collapsed Miami-area Condo Inspection Reports
On June 24th, 2021 during the early morning hours, the residents of Champlain Towers South Condominium experienced the unthinkable: a partial building collapse.
As of the writing of this piece, the death toll of the 12-story building has reached 12, with 149 people unaccounted for.
In the aftermath of this travesty, questions abound. Primarily what led to this event and whether or not it could have been prevented.
Design Flaws and Failed Waterproofing
According to engineers familiar with the structure, 900 days prior to the collapse, significant design flaws and failed waterproofing were noted as threats that could lead to ‘exponential damage’.
These documents, released by the town of Surfside Florida include a 40-year unverified inspection report that is purported to have been delivered just 16-hours after the building’s collapse.
September 6th 2018 Inspection Report Findings
In an inspection report conducted by Frank Morabito, no settlement or bulging was reported at that time. However, of note was that 5% of balcony structural floor slabs showed signs of hairline cracking, and an estimated 8% of concrete slabs in the building plaza and garage showed signs of “concrete deterioration”.
The report went on to describe further cracking and spalling of both exterior concrete walls and concrete columns, with one column revealing a wide crack more than 2 millimeters in width.
Other notable issues in the report included waterproofing membranes that were “beyond their useful life” and required replacement.
October 8th 2018 Inspection Report Findings
On October 8th, 2018 a letter was remitted to the condominium associations treasurer detailing recommendations for repairs and potential hazards. One such recommendation detailed the potential consequences of failed waterproofing, noting:
“major structural damage” referring to a concrete slab above a garage, and “failure to replace waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete damage to expand exponentially.”
The author of this letter went on to warn that the building’s design was flawed and that remediation would be complex, noting that this was a “systemic issue”.
In the report “abundant” spalling and cracking of beams, walls, and columns in the garage under the tower was also detailed. In engineering and construction, ‘spalling’ is a term used to describe the deterioration of concrete.
According to Morabito Consultants, “Abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees were observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls” of the ground floor parking garage. The report continued on, stating that “Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.”
The Experts Weighing In
According to personal injury attorney John Bales, of John Bales Attorneys, some of the issues detailed in the report could be indicative of other unforeseen problems.
Columbia University professor Matthys Levy, author of “Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fall”, noted that “The damage outlined in that report indicates that the problem is at the bottom of the building” and that “The problem obviously is the report is three years old and nothing was done until, you know, recently”.
The cost of such required repairs were (at the time) estimated to be around $9 million, although one resident of the building reported to USA Today that they recalled a discussion in which the costs could have run as high as $15 million.
Another expert, professor of structural engineering at the University of California Los Angeles, John Wallace, was quoted as saying the catastrophic failure could be due to “…slow degradation over time, maybe the concrete wasn’t placed properly, it could be that the ground had moved somewhat causing it,” he went on to say “It could be multiple different things” and that further investigation is warranted.
Too Little Too Late
Despite the findings of these reports being issued as early as September and October of 2018, it wasn’t until April of 2021 that plans to address them had been solidified.
It appeared that some work had previously been done to the concrete slab that supported the plaza and pool, gut that the patchwork and crack repairs were found to have “…performed less than satisfactorily and needs to be completed again” as per the October 2018 report.
Negligence and Catastrophe
Early information regarding inspection reports and findings indicate that there may have been negligence on behalf of the condo association or building ownership. It appears that there were significant issues found with the building’s construction that posed a real and significant risk to its inhabitants.
Although additional investigations are warranted, had these issues been addressed when found, this tragedy may have been avoidable.
Who Could Be Held Responsible for This Building Collapse?
In the event of a catastrophic building collapse, the first priority is medical treatment and survivor rescue. Often additional investigations are needed to determine who or what parties may be at fault or negligent. Such investigations often begin immediately, but can take considerable time to play out.
Negligent Parties May Include:
- Associations (such as a condo association)
- Building owners
- Property management companies
- Construction companies
- Engineering and architectural companies
- And more…
What Types of Damages May Victims Qualify to Be Compensated For?
Building collapses often cause significant damage to person and property, including serious injuries and death.
Common Types of Injuries We Represent Include:
- Wrongful death
- Amputated limbs
- Crush injuries
- Broken bones
- Compartment syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- And more…
Types of Compensation You and Your Family May Be Entitled To
If you or a loved one were the victim of a building collapse accident, you may be entitled to file a claim or sue for compensation for the following:
- Lost wages from time off work
- Lost future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Physical and physiological therapy
- Property damage
- Loss of companionship
- And more…