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Brother Of Surfside Condo Collapse Victims Testifies Against Bill That Would Lower Time To File Lawsuits Over Construction Defect Claims

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) -- Hoping to make a difference, the brother of a Surfside condo collapse victim testified in Tallahassee on Tuesday against a bill that would lower the amount of time to file a lawsuit over building defects.

"Senate Bill 736 is proposing the opposite of what needs to be done after such an unimaginable event," said Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister Nicole and her husband in the Champlain Towers South collapse that killed 98 people on June 24.

Since the Surfside tragedy, he's been fighting for his family and any others, pushing for better laws and more accountability surrounding developers and building construction.

As it stands now, if there is a defect in the building you're living in, you can file a lawsuit against contractors and builders within 10 years.  The proposed law would cut that timeframe down to just four years.

Langesfeld says during a time when developers should be held accountable, this bill is proposing the opposite.

"When I saw Senate Bill 736, I could not believe that accountability to a developer would be dropped to 4 years allowing developers to quickly look the other way," said Langesfeld.

His heartfelt testimony Tuesday urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on Senate Bill 736.

"No one would have ever expected a building to collapse in a total of 12 seconds in the United States of America.  But it did," said Langesfeld.

He testified, the proposed bill will remove accountability from contractors and builders in the face of tragedies like Surfside.

"Looking into this bill I realized how hard it is for anyone who does not have expertise in development or construction to make a claim on a building defect for their own safety in their own homes."

Under Senate Bill 736, lawsuits over latent defects, like building cracks, leaks, plumbing issues, or toxic conditions, would have to be filed within just four years.

"You don't see building defects until 5 maybe 10 years later.  Most times it's longer.  Surfside it took 40 years and sometimes you do not even see the defects," argued Langesfeld.

He says if anything, law makers should be considering expanding the time frame, not shortening it.  He says if this bill is passed, "The negligence will continue to go forward and this is why so many innocent people died."

The next hearing on Senate Bill 736 will likely be in January.  Langesfeld said he plans to be there.

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