Miami Secretary Says Courthouse Gave Her Lung Cancer
The Miami-Dade County Courthouse is in deplorable condition. Built in 1928, it has certainly seen better days and is in need of much repair and renovation.
So, say some, it’s not a far stretch to imagine that daily exposure to asbestos may have caused a long-time employee at this old municipal building to develop lung cancer.
In an article in the Miami New Times, reporter Jessica Lipscomb quotes county commissioners that have described the courthouse as “hazardous” and “experiencing corrosion, rust, water intrusion, algae and mold penetration, termites, poor air quality, and potential asbestos exposure.”
In short, it’s a mess.
Unfortunately, however, it’s become clear that locals don’t want to pay to rebuild it, so employees like Yvonne Stanley have had to deal with the dangers of working in such conditions.
Now, Stanley is suing Miami-Dade County after being diagnosed with Stage II lung cancer, which her doctors say is likely caused by her daily exposure to both asbestos and mold. She has already undergone a thoracotomy, completed in late 2017, and is still facing more rounds of chemotherapy.
Stanley worked at the courthouse from 1994 to 2005 and was then moved to a different location. In her lawsuit, she claims that she was never a smoker nor did she suffer from any other respiratory problems prior to her exposure to toxic asbestos and mold. The exposure, the complaint states, also occurred at her office in the Northside District in Doral.
Sadly, the municipality has long known there is a toxin problem inside the courthouse and other government buildings.
“At a meeting of the county commission’s public safety committee in 2014, Chief Judge Bertila Soto said the 576 people who work at the courthouse were exposed daily to leaks, termites, mold, and asbestos.
The air quality on the 19th and 20th floors grew so bad at one point they had to be temporarily evacuated,” notes the article in the New Times.
“We have lawyers working from their homes through VPN, and other employees throughout the building, because they cannot be on those floors,” Soto also claimed.
In addition, other reports show that officials have not inspected the busy courthouse building since 1988.
In the meantime, courthouse employees say they feel as if they are being forced to continue working in a building that’s dangerous to their health. It’s that or lose their job.
“Every day this decision is delayed, there are more taxpayer dollars that are going into a courthouse that is too small, technologically inadequate, and it’s making people sick,” agreed Judge Jennifer Bailey.
So far, the county has not filed a response to Stanley’s lawsuit and a spokesperson refused to make a statement to the press.