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Sides far apart in disputes over Surfside compensation claims, mediator tells judge

Linda Robertson, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

At stake is about $170 million in potential funds for compensation. The nearly 2-acre property at 8777 Collins Avenue will be put up for auction in late February. A stalking horse offer stands at $120 million from a developer in Dubai who is business partners with Donald Trump, but other developers could submit higher bids. The Champlain Towers South condo association held $30 million in property insurance for the building and another $19 million in personal injury insurance. Millions more might be recouped from third parties who could be sued, such as the town of Surfside and the condo association’s engineer for its renovation project that was only getting started before the June 24 collapse of the building.

Hanzman has indicated he wants to allocate $95 million for property claims based on an appraisal of each unit. But many owners disagree with him over that cap and assert their units are worth more than they were appraised for.

“I think Mr. Greer is the finest mediator in the country, and he’s telling me people who suffered death in their families say that under no circumstances should property owners get any money for their units and should even be assessed liability for defective maintenance, while the property owners are suggesting they’re entitled to the whole value of the property and the insurance and none should go to the people who died on the property.”

Lawyers on the conference call urged Greer to try again and Hanzman to be patient.

“In these types of disasters it often requires multiple mediation sessions,” said Jorge Silva, who is representing people who lost family members in the collapse. “To foreclose on mediation now would be an error on the part of the parties.”

Harley Tropin, representing people who suffered economic loss, said mediation should proceed.

 

“I would let things cool down,” he said. “Mr. Greer is the perfect person to do this. I don’t think he’s a magician who can do this today. Give it more time.”

Rachel Furst, representing relatives, said time is of the essence.

“I’m not sure how far down the road we can extend this,” she said. “In order for the property to be sold some issues will have to be resolved.”

Hanzman asked Greer, who is working pro bono, to make another round of phone calls and Greer agreed.

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