In News & Updates, Private Sector Land Use And Zoning, Property

WSHC+B’s municipal, zoning and planning, and litigation teams came together to represent the Town of Surfside after the horrific tragedy of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse.

The firm is incredibly proud of WSHC+B partners Lily Arango, the Surfside Town Attorney, and Tony Recio, who heads the firm’s private land use and zoning practice, who both dedicated countless hours working with officials on a plan of action in the days, weeks, and months after the catastrophe. And when the impending litigation arose, WSHC+B litigators Eric Hockman and Joe Serota stepped in as part of the team of attorneys who negotiated the nearly $1 billion in settlements, a result that presiding Judge Michael Hanzman called “beyond extraordinary.”

Eric spoke with several media outlets about the stunning settlement result. He told Law360 that Judge Michael Hanzman “was pushing everybody really, really hard. He really did a tremendous job. This case belonged in front of him.”

Judge Hanzman, who had no advanced warning that the victims’ attorneys would announce the resolution of their claims against dozens of entities for $997 million, was “at a loss for words.” But then he added, “The result that has been achieved in this case and the speed with which it has been achieved is beyond extraordinary. If the right people were not running this case, this could have turned into a decade-long slog.”

Eric elaborated to Law360, “This is one of those cases where the last thing in the world you want to happen is to have a jury decide that your client is at fault for this terrible tragedy. It’s far better to buy your peace and deny liability than have a jury say you caused this. For a lot of insurers, keeping their clients’ exposure down within policy limits is a good, strategic choice.”

Once the settlements are approved, the parties’ investigations into the cause of the collapse will cease, although Eric said Surfside will continue its contract with structural engineer and collapse expert, Allyn Kilsheimer. Despite objections from some of the participants, Judge Hanzman concluded that Surfside was entitled to continue its investigation into the cause of the collapse.

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims as we approach the painful anniversary of this tragedy.

Click here to read the full Law360 article.

Click here to read the Miami Herald article.

Click here to see CBS Miami’s coverage of the news.

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