A look at big US legal settlements amid Surfside's $1B deal

·2 min read

The proposed settlement of more than $1 billion as compensation for the 98 people who died in a Florida condominium collapse is far from the largest in U.S. history.

Even adding in the $96 million proposed for property owners in the Champlain Towers South disaster wouldn't bring it close to the biggest such legal deals.

A judge gave initial approval to the deal on Saturday. Final approval is expected in the coming weeks for the settlements, which came out of lawsuits filed after the 12-story beachfront building tumbled down last June in Surfside. The exact causes of the collapse have yet to be determined.

Other major U.S. legal settlements include:

9/11 ATTACKS

A Victim Compensation Fund established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has paid out more than $7 billion to about 5,500 individuals and families who were injured or lost a loved one. The program had been set expire in December 2020 but was renewed by Congress for the coming decades in part because so many 9/11-related illnesses do not appear right away.

GULF OIL SPILL

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion that killed 11 people dumped tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling beaches, ruining fisheries and killing birds. It resulted in a $20.8 billion settlement, the largest involving the environment in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The money goes to a variety of programs. BP, an owner and operator of the rig, also paid $4 billion in criminal fines for Clean Water Act violations.

BIG TOBACCO

The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between four cigarette makers, the federal government and 46 states requires the companies to pay $206 billion over 25 years and another $9 billion each year after that. Four states, including Florida, reached their own settlements with tobacco companies. The money largely goes to help states handle the long-term health costs of smoking.

BREAST IMPLANTS

In 1998, Dow Corning Corp. settled a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to pay about $3.2 billion to an estimated 170,000 women who said they suffered injuries and illnesses caused by silicone breast implants.

ENRON

Shareholders in the now-defunct Enron Corp. reached a $7.2 billion settlement in 2008 after a massive accounting fraud scandal was uncovered, showing how the company's earnings had been misrepresented. Enron, which once had some 29,000 employees, declared bankruptcy and essentially went out of business in December 2001.

The Associated Press

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