Watch CBS News

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed In Surfside Condo Collapse

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The first official lawsuit after the deadly condominium collapse has been filed. There are likely to be many more, as people attempt to get justice for everyone affected by this tragedy.

Some residents are reflecting on possible red flags or missed signs before the building came crumbling down.

"It is not a normal sound in a building, but she didn't think anything of it. I didn't think anything of it, " says Pablo Rodriguez, whose parents are still unaccounted for. He says his mother heard a loud creaking noise in the days before this happened. "Now, in hindsight, you always wonder if you should have paid more attention to it."

Janette Aguero and her family made it out of the building. She says accumulating water in the parking garage made her think.

"It was always wet, even when it was dry out and you kind of wondered where did that water come from?" she says.

As residents and their loved ones seek answers, some say the condo building needs to be held accountable for the tragedy.

Attorney Brad Sohn says he was contacted by unit owner Manuel Drezner Thursday morning.

"The lawsuit that we filed, so far, is a class action lawsuit on behalf of all unit owners, seeking compensation for their completely destroyed homes," he says.

They're seeking $5 million in compensation. The defendant is named as the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association.

"We just felt that it was very important to get going, Sohn says, "Particularly when lawsuits have an important public function in terms of forcing people to be transparent and forcing people to provide information, which are things that will not only help the victims directly, but hopefully prevent something like this from ever happening again."

The class-action suit claims the association had the responsibility to safeguard lives and property and failed to do so with possible oversights in maintenance or repairs to the site.

"It's my understanding that there were credible complaints and significant concerns raised by people who were close to the situation several years prior to this happening," says Sohn.

On Monday, another lawsuit was filed on behalf of unit owner Raysa Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez's attorney, Adam Moskowitz, this complain is different for three reasons:

  1. Proposes to set up an organized structure now before Judge Michael Hanzman, so litigation can start, any and all relevant documents be preserved and subpoenas start to be served on possible defendants.
  2. Includes very specific facts and detail about potential liability and defendants.
  3. Includes a guide to the law in Florida on class actions, especially the pending FPL water main break case, which is set for one liability trial later this year, for all 9,200 injured victims in Fort Lauderdale (that is a liability trial we seek here for everyone affected and that suffered any injury).

Other lawsuits are in their early information-gathering stages.

"We are doing a very thorough investigation. We are working all night and day," says Attorney Adam Moskowitz. "We are talking to people who did maintenance on the building for 30 years. We are talking to inspectors. We are talking to the roofing companies. There was a cell tower built on the roof. We are investigating whether that was proper."

Moskowitz says he's been contacted by about a dozen families. For him, this tragedy hits close to home.

"My partner has family friends who are still missing. He was at the vigil all morning. We have friends who were still missing. It's very emotional for us."

All have the goal of getting to the bottom of what happened and making sure those impacted get justice.

"We want to make sure we hold everybody that's responsible liable for this damage for this horrible incident that should not of occurred," says Moskowitz.

Sohn says more lawsuits, including wrongful death and personal injury suits, are expected in the near future.

Anyone who has information that may help build a case, they encourage to come forward.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.