MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Frustration and fear filled Broward’s commission chambers Tuesday as prominent judges and courthouse workers exposed a dirty secret – the Broward County Courthouse seems to be making them sick, even killing them.
“My deskmate has cancer. The girl behind me, 30-years-old, came down with cancer, died six weeks later,” said court clerk Jackie Gobin. “We’ve lost two other girls to cancer. Please, we’re begging you, get us out of this building.”
Flooding from burst pipes and storms are legendary in the old courthouse. Over the year, CBS4 has documented evidence of mold under wallpaper and asbestos in ceiling tiles. Despite clean-ups, problems persist.
Judge Marc Gold showed CBS4’s Joan Murray soot that had settled on a paper towel in his chambers. He told commissioners his shock when a doctor found spores in his eyes.
“I had steroids put in my eyeballs. We were traveling, my wife and I. I had to have a doctor on call in the state that I went to, in case something went wrong,” said Gold.
“Forget about the State Attorneys Office, what about all the jurors that have to be there for lengthy trials. They are subjected also,” said Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson.
Commissioner Mark Bogen put some of the blame on facility managers he claims have buried the truth for too long saying he would bring evidence to show the failures of a few people.
Courthouse prosecutors and judges have sent dozens of emails to the county saying the building they work in is making them sick, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
While a new courthouse is under construction next door, it’s more than a year behind schedule.
Meantime, the county has quietly settled while “expressly denying” liability. In the past two years, 13 lawsuits were filed by employees of the courthouse. Each fell under the $15,000 threshold which would require a County Commission vote during a public meeting.
Now with delays in the new courthouse, cries of concern continue to grow louder.
Emails to county hall show 120 employees, some judges and prosecutors, describing health problems they said worsened while they’re at work at the courthouse. Among the symptoms are hives, nosebleeds, runny nose, coughing and migraine headaches.
There are complaints of black dust on desks, signs warning of asbestos in the building, flooded carpets that haven’t been replaced and uncomfortably cold temperatures meant to hinder the growth of mold.
So far, the county is working to move 29 of the sickest State Attorney’s Office employees plus three workers who are pregnant into a private office across the street. It’s a move that doesn’t sit well with other employees left behind.
Their complaints are familiar to the county. Back in 2010, employees alleged the county neglected the courthouse putting their health at risk. The allegations prompted county commissioner’s to vote to replace the courthouse.
Ironically, the new courthouse under construction has had some water woes and mold issues that have led to even further delays for employees moving in.
Relief seems to be in reach. The county manager promises everybody is going to be out of the building by March.