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US condo collapse payout tops $1.42b

Attorneys for the families who lost relatives in last year’s collapse of a Florida apartment tower that killed 98 people have reached a $US1.02 billion ($A1.42 billion) settlement.

The agreement to end litigation over the Champlain Towers South tragedy awaits approval by Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, but that should be a formality.

Lawyers had previously announced in court a tentative agreement that almost $US1 billion would be split by the families whose relatives died or were harmed in the collapse of the 12-storey tower at Surfside, some 25km north of Miami city centre.

Parties on both sides of the lawsuit filed a motion on Friday committing to a $US1.02 billion settlement fund.

Additionally, nearly $US100 million ($A140 million) will be split by those who lost their property in the collapse.

Families of victims will have to file claims, as the money will not be split evenly. The goal is to begin distributing money by September.

The money comes from several sources, including insurance companies, engineering companies and a luxury condominium that had recently been built next door. None of the parties are admitting wrongdoing.

A billionaire developer from Dubai is set to purchase the beachside site for $US120 million, contributing to the settlement.

The judge will determine the lawyers’ fees, but they are expected to be a fraction of the third they would normally earn.

Cases like this typically take three years or more to reach a settlement, let alone get to trial.

Most of Champlain Towers South collapsed suddenly around 1.20am local time on June 24, 2021, as residents slept. Only three people survived the initial collapse.

No other survivors were found despite round-the-clock efforts by rescuers who dug through a 12-metre high pile of rubble for two weeks.

Another three dozen people were able to escape from the portion of the building that remained standing.

All 135 units were ultimately demolished, leaving a gaping hole along Surfside’s beachfront.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process expected to take years.

Champlain South had a long history of maintenance problems and questions have been raised about the quality of its original construction and inspections in the early 1980s.

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