Heed the Warnings: Surfside Condo and Pittsburgh Bridge

On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:22 a.m., a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed, killing 98 people and injuring 11.

The main contributing factor was identified as long-term degradation of concrete structural support in the ground-level parking garage under the housing units, due to water penetration and corrosion of the reinforcing steel. The problems had been reported in 2018 and noted as “much worse” in April 2021. A $15 million program of remedial works had been approved before the collapse, although no main structural work had been undertaken.

On Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, at approximately 6:40 a.m., the Fern Hollow Bridge – which carried roughly 14,000 vehicles a day, connecting major areas of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – collapsed about 100 feet into a ravine.  Miraculously, no one was killed but about 10 people received injuries.  The bridge had received “poor” ratings for the past 10 years from inspectors, and was included in plans to be rehabilitated, but not for another five to seven years.

As the shock wears off, the impact on victims and families processed, and the physical work of cleanup and reclamation begins, next come the questions about liability and who is responsible for the costs involved in the aftermath.

In the case of the Surfside collapse, there may be issues surrounding the property insurance and the possibility of Director & Officer claims directed at the Condo board.  Regarding the Fern Hollow Bridge, various municipal bodies and agencies may face insurance investigations and subsequent litigation.  In each instance, warnings about potential failures of the respective structures had been issued, and corrective plans made, but none had been performed in time to prevent a collapse.

One thing may be more certain than anything else, however – claims of this scope will trigger enhanced underwriting by the marketplace.

Your organization may not necessarily face the same level of disaster as Surfside or Fern Hollow, but there may be identifiable risks in play nonetheless.  Once they have been identified and a plan to alleviate them has been developed, it is wise to implement those plans sooner than later, as much as practically and financially possible.

For more information on these matters and how to properly prepare, contact the professionals at The Reschini Group today.

Copyright 2022 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.