Broward courthouse staff:
Building mold made us sick
April 3, 2009
Is mold making workers at
Broward County's main courthouse ill? Several think so, and have filed
Five employees at Broward
County's main courthouse have filed lawsuits saying mold at the building
made them sick.
The lawsuits are the latest
chapter in the downtown Fort Lauderdale courthouse's ongoing structural
woes, which have resulted in several floods and power outages that forced
its closure for days at a time.
On Friday, a county committee
looking into what can be done about the building will meet at 1 p.m. at
The five lawsuits were filed
Monday, naming Broward County and three companies that worked on various
stages of repairing and cleaning up the courthouse: D. Stephenson
Construction, C&B Services and Affordable Restoration.
On Tuesday, the plaintiffs'
attorney, Walter ''Skip'' Campbell, said all of his firm's clients
suffered serious respiratory problems because of the courthouse
''That courthouse has been
deteriorating since I've been practicing law,'' said Campbell, a former
The lawsuits seek damages and
the relocation of court services out of the courthouse.
County officials would not
comment, saying they had not been served with the suit yet. But County
Mayor Stacy Ritter said leaders are trying to address the building's
''Clearly the county
commission understands that the courthouse is an aging building,'' Ritter
said, ``and we continue to have ongoing challenges to ensure that the
complex remains viable for public use.''
Representatives of the
companies being sued could not be reached for comment.
Those claiming damages are
Patti Buchholtz, Sun Rentel, Brenda Spony, Jody Romm and her husband
Michael Romm, and Stefanie Krathen Ginnis and her husband Eric Ginnis.
Broward's courthouse isn't
the first in the region raising concerns about mold.
Lawsuits also have been filed
by the family of late U.S. Magistrate Theodore Klein, contending that mold
at Miami's federal courthouse contributed to the illnesses that caused his
The Broward lawsuits outline
several instances believed to have contributed to the mold problem,
starting with water damage left behind after Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma
tore through Broward County in 2005. Air samples taken afterward showed
the courthouse 'was a `very sick' building with long standing water
intrusion problems,'' the lawsuit stated.
A pair of pipe bursts
worsened the conditions. One in late 2008 soaked court files, knocked out
phone service and forced the building to close for several days. A second
in January added more water damage.
And on Feb. 12, a urinal on
the eighth floor broke, flooding several floors below, the lawsuit stated.
BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ
Herald, Wednesday April 1, 2009