Who is Steve Rosenthal? Surfside building collapse survivor sues condo association
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: A resident who survived the deadly building collapse at Champlain Towers South on Thursday, June 24, reportedly filed a lawsuit against the condo association over the weekend.
Steve Rosenthal, 72, who lived in Unit 705, filed a lawsuit on Saturday, June 26, saying the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association knew or should have known “the entire structure was deteriorating and becoming susceptible to catastrophic loss by collapse.” He is now seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial, Local 10 reported.
“The tragedy of Champlain Towers South should not be allowed to be repeated,” Rosenthal’s attorney Bob McKee said in a statement to ABC News. “It is not a solitary freak event. The conditions relating to its collapse exist in many of our hi-rise concrete buildings. Change to effectuate more frequent inspection, with teeth in compelling immediate complete and timely repair must be effectuated. Otherwise, we will have other events such as the horrible failure and collapse we have all witnessed at Champlain Towers South. The last thing we want to see is more harm, in either slow water damage, building health damage, or in instantaneous building failure."
According to the complaint, the association had a duty to hire “competent contractors, inspectors, engineers, and other appropriate persons and corporations to perform its required maintenance and repair duties if it was not performing the activities itself.”
The 1981 building was reportedly in the process of recertification, which is mandatory every 40 years to assess the strength and stability of every part of the residential property.
“It’s sad. And people ask me, ‘Where are you going to go? Where are you going to be?’ Well, for sure I am not getting a condo on the beach,” Rosenthal told Local 10. “That’s done!”
The 72-year-old resident recalled how he woke up to “the loudest thunderclap” he had ever heard in his life. Dust began falling from the ceiling and hitting him in the face, and his bed began rocking and shaking just moments later.
"I'm saying, 'I'm in a dream about an earthquake in California. This isn't real,'" Rosenthal recounted to multiple news outlets, including News4Jax, on Sunday. “I go to my front door, it leads to the hallway, all dust don’t see a thing,” he said. “I’m seeing all the rubble, all the cement, the ceiling, everything is falling down and people are yelling, ‘Help me! Help me get me out!’”
Steve Rosenthal, who survived the tower collapse and is now filing suit, said he thought he was in the middle of a once in “10,000-year earthquake that hits Florida.”— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) June 28, 2021
“I ran to the balcony and was praying that the building didn’t fall on me, didn’t collapse on me.” pic.twitter.com/SncqWs5ADE
That said, Rosenthal's lawsuit comes just days after another resident Manuel Drezner filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit “on behalf of all others similarly situated,” alleging that the condo association had failed to “secure and safeguard the lives and property” of those who lived at the building.
Officials haven't pointed fingers at anyone, but urged that the primary focus right now should be to rescue any possible survivors and recovering bodies from the rubble. According to them, establishing the cause of the collapse will require some more time.