The family of a teen pulled alive from the rubble of last month’s Florida building disaster has filed a lawsuit claiming its condo association knew the highrise was “at grave risk of collapse.”
Relatives of 15-year-old Jonah Handler say in the suit filed Thursday that the condo association at Champlain Towers South in Surfside was aware of previous “widespread structural damage” at the building, as detailed in a damning 2018 engineer’s report, the Miami Herald reported. Handler’s mother died from the building collapse June 24.
The court papers allege that the condo association knew that the “building was structurally unsound, unsafe, and at grave risk of collapse” well before it fell.
Handler, a sophomore at Monsignor Edward Pace High School, survived the tragedy but suffered devastating injuries, according to the suit.
The teen sat “side by side” with his mother, Stacie Fang, 54, in his room at their 10th-floor condo as the building crumbled to the ground, the documents say.
“They free-fell to what they thought was certain death. Stacie and Jonah landed several floors below and miraculously were still alive,” the suit said. “First responders arrived at the scene and used Air Jacks to remove Jonah from the carnage.”
Fang was taken to a hospital, where she later died, according to the suit.
Meanwhile, the teen suffered “pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish [and] loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life,” the suit says.
He also incurred “expenses of hospitalization, medical and nursing care treatment [and] aggravation or acceleration of pre-existing injury,” the papers state.
The lawsuit was filed by Neil Handler, the teen’s father, and Kevin Fang, his uncle.
Donna Becker, the lawyer representing the owners of Champlain Towers South, didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.