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Surfside building collapse: Victims file $5 million lawsuit against condo association

'Repair needs had been identified,' suit says
Surfside building collapse on June 25, 2021
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 22:18:05-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. (WPTV) -- The first lawsuit has been filed in connection with the deadly collapse this week at a South Florida condominium.

The suit was filed late Thursday night, less than 24 hours after the Champlain Towers building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, killing at least four people.

It was filed on behalf of Manuel Drezner and attorney Brad Sohn of The Brad Sohn Law Firm for the victims involved in the tragedy.

The class-action lawsuit against the building association seeks to compensate the victims and says the defendant failed to "safeguard the lives and property" of residents.

The suit goes on to say that the association failed to "properly protect the lives and property" of the plaintiffs.

"According to public statements made by Defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, 'repair needs had been identified' with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed," the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs in the case are seeking restitution, recovery of damages and the cost of attorney fees following the tragedy.

They are seeking to recover $5 million for the victims, according to the lawsuit.

Sohn said he has been contacted by numerous victims who said they did have concerns over the structural integrity of the building prior to the partial collapse.

The attorney said the goal of the lawsuit is to try to make the victims whole again as soon as possible and to start holding those accountable so that evidence may be preserved.

Direktor, the attorney representing the Champlain Towers South Association, rejected the lawsuit.

"I don't know what caused this building to fall down, you don't know what caused this building to fall down, government officials do not know what caused this building to fall down, the engineers don't know what caused this building to fall down," Direktor said. "Please, explain to me how this lawyer knows what caused this building to fall down."

MORE: How to help those impacted by the Surfside condo collapse

More than 150 people are still unaccounted for as first responders continue to sift through the rubble looking for survivors.

The building was constructed in 1981 and set to undergo a 40-year recertification process, which is mandated by code enforcement in Miami-Dade County.

This story originally reported by Michelle Quesada and Scott Sutton on WPTV.com.