New lawsuit filed in deadly Florida building collapse
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A tenant of the Florida condo building that collapsed last week has filed a new class-action lawsuit — describing how she “screamed in horror” as she fled the building.
Raysa Rodriguez, who lived on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, said in papers filed Monday that the building’s condo association was “reckless and negligent” for not maintaining the building, CNN reported.
“I looked left to the north end of the building,” Rodriguez said, describing how she escaped after the thundering crash woke her.
“A concrete column had pierced the hallway from floor to ceiling,” she said. “I looked at the elevators. The elevator shafts were exposed, the doors were gone.”
“I knocked on several neighbors’ doors, no answer,” Rodriguez said. “I run to the exit, open the doors that lead to the outside stairwell and saw the devastation.”
“The beach side of Champlain had collapsed, pancaked. I screamed in horror.”
The lawsuit is the third filed since the building collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, killing at least 11 people and leaving more than 150 still missing.
“Despite the obvious duties required by Florida law, and this admitted duty of care by the association’s declaration and other governing documents, defendant, through their own reckless and negligent conduct, caused a catastrophic deadly collapse,” the lawsuit claims.
Rodriguez, who is seeking unspecified damages on behalf of herself and other tenants, said the association failed to address “major structural damage” flagged in a 2018 engineer’s report on the building.
One of her lawyers, Adam Schwartzbaum, told CNN that she had “recently” shared photos of cracked concrete in the building’s garage because “a giant piece of concrete landed behind her car.”
In April, the president of the condo association told Champlain residents in a letter that the “observable damage” detailed in the report had gotten “significantly worse.”
However, a $15 million project to address the problems had only just begun with roof work when the building collapsed.
The assocation did not return calls from CNN.
In an interview on CNN Monday night, association attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger said the board is in the process of trying to determine what happened and “will be evaluating who’s responsible,” the network said.
The first lawsuit over the deadly collapse was filed Thursday shortly before 11:30 p.m., about 22 hours after the building pancaked.
Building resident Manuel Drezner is seeking $5 million in that suit.
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