Eliott’s Insight 2/12/11
Attorney Wants Broward County Courthouse Shut Down
If you get a summons to serve for jury duty at the Broward County Courthouse not only do you have to worry about inconveniences like taking time off from work, you also have to worry about dying of cancer.That’s the feeling I got after talking to Fort Lauderdale attorney Robert McKee. He’s suing Broward County on behalf of more than a dozen courthouse employees. McKee says new lab results show alarming levels of mold in the air and on surfaces in parts of the building.
McKee’s firm hired a toxicologist who performed tests on eight areas—courtrooms, judge’s chambers and staff areas—on the 7th, 8th and 9th floor of the courthouse. The tests were conducted one month after the death of Judge Cheryl Aleman, who died at age 52 from an aggressive form of lung cancer. Aleman, who died last December, was a non-smoker.
Three judges moved their chambers to other parts of the building after Aleman’s death. McKee says fear is also spreading among bailiffs, attorneys, clerks and other employees of the courthouse. Witnesses, defendants and anyone having to do business in the courthouse would justifiably be apprehensive, he said.
The county is building a new courthouse, but groundbreaking isn’t scheduled until later this year.
I asked McKee if its practical or even possible to move all the courthouse facilities elsewhere until a new building is completed.
“Before practicality should come safety,” he said. “The county has an obligation to run this judicial facility in a way that is safe for the people who are there.”
You can also check out our special report about FEMA’s flood map problems in South Florida by clicking the link below.