Teenager Jonah Handler was sitting in his room with his mother when the walls of their condominium in Champlain Towers South gave way two weeks ago.
"They free-fell to what they thought was certain death," according to a lawsuit filed this week. "Stacie and Jonah landed several floors below and miraculously were still alive."
However, while the 15-year-old Handler survived, his 54-year-old mother, Stacie Fang, died after being taken to the hospital for treatment.
Even with the grim news that his mother was the first identified casualty of the collapse, Handler's rescue provided a glimmer of hope that others would be found alive.
However, Handler, who was discovered hours after the 12-story oceanfront condo crumbled on June 24, would be the last.
As of Friday, 78 bodies had been recovered and another 62 people are unaccounted for as the search operation this week shifted from rescue to recovery.
Nicholas Balboa, a visitor from Arizona who had been walking his dog, heard Handler's screams and saw hands and fingers reaching up through the wreckage, he told CNN.
Balboa called first responders, who used air jacks to pull Handler from the wreckage. While Fang was rescued, too, she later died at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.
Fang's death and her son's "devastating" injuries were avoidable, attorney Judd Rosen said in the lawsuit filed Thursday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of Handler's father and Fang's brother.
Handler's uncle said the youth had been released from the hospital, Balboa told CNN. But, Rosen said in the suit, the psychological scars are deep.
"Jonah Handler was physically, emotionally, and psychologically permanently injured," Rosen wrote.
The suit is among 15 that have been filed since the tower collapsed.
Like others, Rosen blames the condominium association for ignoring a 2018 report from structural engineers that revealed major and widespread structural damage.
Other lawsuits, such as one filed Thursday by the son of Antonio and Gladys Lozano, an elderly couple who died, said others were negligent as well.
Sergio Lozano blames the deaths of his 83-year-old father and 79-year-old mother on Morabito Consultants, the Palm Beach Gardens and Maryland structural engineering firm that catalogued the building's faults and recommended repairs.
Others named by Lozano and others who have filed suit include: building manager Scott Stewart; Willcott Engineering, which inspected the building in 2020; and those involved in the construction of Eighty Seven Park, a nearby luxury condominium. Residents of Champlain Towers had complained about the impacts of that project.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman has appointed a receiver to take over financial decision-making for the condominium association. The receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg, also is gathering financial information, such as how much insurance coverage had been purchased for the building.
An estimated $48 million in coverage has been identified, he said in a court hearing this week.
Hanzman also gave Goldberg the go-ahead to distribute money, offered by insurers and private donors, to residents who were left homeless or are struggling with funeral costs.
The judge has also created a team of lawyers to recommend how the lawsuits could be consolidated into class-action lawsuits in hopes they don't linger in the court system.
Hanzman is to receive an update from the attorneys Wednesday.