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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR Powered By Docstoc
					                                                      IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH
                                                      JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR
                                                      BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

                                                      CASE NO.:
PATTI BUCHHOLTZ,

       Plaintiff,

v.

BROWARD COUNTY, a political
subdivision of the State of Florida,
D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION, INC.,
CROCHET AND BOREL SERVICES, INC
d/b/a C&B SERVICES, INC. and
AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC.

      Defendants.
______________________________/

                  COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND INJUNCTIVE RELEIF

       COMES NOW, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, by and through the undersigned

counsel,    and     sues   the   Defendants,    BROWARD          COUNTY,     D.   STEPHENSON

CONSTRUCTION, INC., CROCHET AND BOREL SERVICES, INC d/b/a C&B SERVICES,

INC. and AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC. and as grounds therefore would state as

follows:

                                      Parties and Jurisdiction

       1.         This is an action for damages in excess of Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00) Dollars

and injunctive relief.

       2.         At all times material hereto, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, was and is a

resident of Broward County, Florida.
        3.     At all times material hereto, the Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, is a political

subdivision of the State of Florida.

        4.     At    all   times    material   hereto,   the   Defendant,     D.   STEPHENSON

CONSTRUCTION, INC., was and is a Florida corporation authorized to do and doing business

in Broward County, Florida.

        5.     At all times material hereto, the Defendant, CROCHET AND BOREL

SERVICES, INC d/b/a C&B SERVICES, INC. (hereinafter “C&B SERVICES, INC.”), was and

is a Texas corporation authorized to do and doing business in Broward County, Florida.

        6.     At all times material hereto, the Defendant, AFFORDABLE RESTORATION,

INC., was and is a Florida corporation authorized to do and doing business in Broward County,

Florida.

        7.     Venue is proper in Broward County, Florida since acts giving rise to the cause of

action occurred in Broward County, Florida.

        8.     At all times material hereto, the Plaintiff has complied with the notice

requirements of Florida Statutes § 768.28 prior to the filing of this complaint (attached as Exhibit

“A”).

                                   Facts Common to All Counts

        9.     At all times material hereto, Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, owned, operated,

maintained, and controlled the Courthouse of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit In and For

Broward County located at 201 SE 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301 (hereinafter “Broward

County Courthouse”).

        10.    At all times material hereto, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, worked in the

Broward County Courthouse as a judicial assistant.




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       11.     On or about August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the southeast coast of Florida,

specifically Fort Lauderdale, Florida, causing water intrusion/damage to the Broward County

Courthouse.

       12.     On or about October 25, 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit the southeast coast of Florida,

specifically Fort Lauderdale, Florida, causing water intrusion/damage to the Broward County

Courthouse.

       13.     In an effort to repair and remediate the Broward County Courthouse from the

water intrusion/damage caused by the hurricanes, Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, contracted

with Defendants, D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION, INC., C&B SERVICES, INC. and

AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC., to repair the building’s structural envelope, dry and

clean the premises so as make it reasonably safe for occupancy. (Plaintiff is not in possession of

said contracts but will attach upon receipt through discovery.)

       14.     Thereafter, air samples were taken at the Broward County Courthouse. The

studies concluded that the Courthouse was a “very sick” building with long standing water

intrusion problems, including the growth of microbes including Stachybotrys, a toxigenic mold

that is rare, and found only in wet environments that have been consistently wet for long periods

of time.

       15.     During December, 2008, a burst pipe on the second (2nd) floor of the Broward

County Courthouse soaked thousands of court files and knocked out more than 4,000 phone

lines, causing a 10-day closure of the building contributing further to the microbial and chemical

amplification in the building.




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       16.      In January 2009, the Broward County Courthouse experienced another pipe burst

resulting in further water damage, contributing further to the microbial and chemical

amplification in the building.

       17.      On February 12, 2009, a urinal on the eighth (8th) floor of the Broward County

Courthouse malfunctioned causing downward flooding to reach many of the floors below the

eighth (8th) floor of the Courthouse, contributing further to the microbial and chemical

amplification in the building.

       18.      As a result of the on going and repeated water intrusion, the Broward County

Courthouse sustained an ongoing amplification of microbial organisms causing the growth of

microbes and spread of their chemical metabolic products into the air and onto surfaces within

the building.

       19.      At all times material hereto, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, suffered

significant and permanent injury as a result of constant exposure to the microbes and toxins in

the Broward County Courthouse.

                       Count I – Negligence of Defendant Broward County

      Plaintiff realleges and reavers Paragraphs 1 through 19 above as fully set forth herein and

would further state:

      20.       At all times material hereto, the Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, through its

maintenance personnel, had a duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition so as to

prevent injury to people occupying the Broward County Courthouse, including the Plaintiff,

PATTI BUCHHOLTZ.

      21        At all times material hereto, the Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, through its

maintenance personnel, breached its duties, including but not limited to:




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               a.      failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition so as to
                       prevent injury to employees, specifically the Plaintiff, PATTI
                       BUCHHOLTZ;

               b.      failing to construct the premises in a reasonably safe fashion, including the
                       proper HVAC system with coordinated room ventilation and fresh air
                       distribution and supply;

               c.      failing to take appropriate measures to fix or remedy the ongoing microbial
                       growth occurring throughout the Courthouse, so as to prevent injury to
                       occupants who are subjected to continual exposure, including the Plaintiff,
                       PATTI BUCHHOLTZ;

               d.      failing to properly use ventilate and clean up chemicals utilized within the
                       premises;

               e.      failing to inspect the premises to assure that the premises safely ventilated
                       and clean of dangerous toxins and microbial organisms;

               f.      failing to timely and adequately warn the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ,
                       of the dangerous and unsafe conditions existing therein when the
                       Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, knew or should have known of the
                       dangerous and unsafe conditions;

               g.      failing to employ competent maintenance or remediation contractors; and

               h.      failing to inspect the work of maintenance or remediation contractors to
                       assure their work provided a reasonably safe premises.

       22.     As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Defendant, BROWARD

COUNTY, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, was injured in and about her body and/or

aggravated a pre-existing condition, resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental

anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expensive hospitalization, medical treatment,

loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money. These losses are permanent and the Plaintiff will

suffer such in the future. The injuries suffered by the Plaintiff are continuing in nature and she will

continue to suffer pain, scarring, mental anguish, loss of wages, physical handicap and/or

permanent injury in the future and will be further compelled to spend great sums for medical care

and related treatment for those injuries.



                                                  5
        WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, demands judgment for damages

against the Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, together with all taxable costs interest available

under Florida law, and further demands trial by jury of all issues so triable as a matter of right.

                       Count II– Injunctive Relief Against Broward County

        Plaintiff realleges and reavers Paragraphs 1 through 19 above as fully set forth herein and

would further state:

        23.     During the course of the Plaintiff’s tenure at the Broward County Courthouse, the

Plaintiff, as well as other employees and occupants of the Broward County Courthouse, has

suffered permanent and continuing injury resulting from exposure to microbial organisms and

toxins that were caused by extensive water intrusion at the Broward County Courthouse.

        24.     Plaintiff and other employees and occupants of the Broward County Courthouse

were never made aware of their exposure to the plethora of toxins and abnormal levels of

microbes at the Broward County Courthouse until she and other employees discovered that each

were not alone in manifesting symptoms or diagnosed with similar ailments.

        25.     It is clear that the structure and its equipment components have reached a point of

physical decline which makes it highly likely that adequate repairs cannot be made to render the

building reasonably safe for occupancy.

        26.     Neither Plaintiff nor other occupants of the Broward County Courthouse should

be subjected to the unsanitary and unsafe conditions found within the Broward County

Courthouse

        27.     Plaintiff and other occupants should be removed from the premises and relocated

to safe location(s) for the conduct of operations of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit until they can




                                                   6
be assured that no further risk of injury or damage shall occur at the Broward County Courthouse

or another permanent facility is built or located for conducting said operations.

       28.      Plaintiff and others working at the Broward County Courthouse are forced to

choose between suffering bodily injury or terminating their employment.

       29.      The continued operation of the Broward County Courthouse exposes the Plaintiff,

PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, to suffer further permanent and continuing injury by continued exposure

to microbial organisms and toxins.

       30.      Should the Plaintiff be required to remain in the Broward County Courthouse, the

Plaintiff, as well as other unnamed individual occupants, will continue to suffer irreparable harm

to their health, safety and welfare.

       31.      There is no adequate remedy at law that would protect the Plaintiff, PATTI

BUCHHOLTZ, from further permanent and continuing injury by continued exposure to

microbial organisms and toxins.

       32.      Plaintiff has a high probability of success on the merits as the Defendant and

others have documented that toxic mold, bacteria and fungi are present within the Broward

County Courthouse.

       33.      The injury that the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, and other occupants of the

Broward County Courthouse are likely to suffer is irreparable in nature and certain to occur if an

injunction is not granted.

       Wherefore, with respect to Count II for Injunctive Relief, Plaintiff requests as follows:

       A.     Immediate injunctive relief in the form of evacuation of the Broward County

Courthouse;




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       B. Immediate relocation of all operations currently being provided and conducted at the

Broward County Courthouse to location(s) which are safe and adequate to conduct those

operations;

       C. Permanent relocation of all operations currently being provided and conducted at the

Broward County Courthouse to new facility which are safe and adequate to conduct those

operations;

       D. Complete and conclusive testing of the Broward County Courthouse to determine the

amount, extent, and types of hazardous chemicals and toxins to which the occupants of the

Broward County Courthouse have been/may have been exposed;

       E. Distribution of said test and examination results to all current occupants of the

Broward County Courthouse, former occupants of the Broward County Courthouse, and the

families/heirs of individuals who once occupied the Broward County Courthouse, but are now

deceased, so as to provide all persons the information required for present or future diagnosis as

required;

       F. Entry of an injunction prohibiting Defendant or other individual/entity from forcing

any Plaintiff or individual to enter the Broward County Courthouse until such time as the entire

building is determined to be safe, structurally sound, and successfully remediated by a

professional remediation company following applicable and certified for mold remediation by an

independent engineering company to verify the absence of toxic mold, bacteria, fungi, and water

intrusion; and

       G. Such other injunctive relief the Court deems appropriate under the circumstances.




                                                8
       WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, requests judgment permanently

enjoining Defendant, BROWARD COUNTY, as described above, awarding Plaintiff costs and

granting Plaintiff such further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

                       Count III -Negligence of D. Stephenson Construction Inc.

      Plaintiff realleges and reavers Paragraphs 1 through 19 above as fully set forth herein and

would further state:

      34. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION,

INC., was retained as a general contractor to perform post-hurricane emergency roof repairs,

HVAC repairs, acoustic ceiling tile treatments, caulking, and window replacement at the Broward

County Courthouse.

      35. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION,

INC., had a non-delegable duty to use reasonable care in conducting repairs so as to prevent injury

people occupying the Broward County Courthouse, including the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ.

      36.      At all times material hereto, the Defendant, D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION,

INC by and through its employees and agents, breached its duties, including but not limited to:

      a. failing to use reasonable care in repairing same;

      b. failing to contain work areas to prevent microbial amplification and spread;

      c. failing to adequately secure the building envelope to preclude additional water intrusion

and microbial amplification from the structure's organic and inorganic components;

      d. failing to assure safe operation of the repaired HVAC so as to provide code required fresh

air ventilation and dehumidification throughout the structure, which are essential to preclude

amplification of harmful microbes which are components of the organic and inorganic structural

members;



                                                  9
       f. failing to warn regarding the harm caused by occupying the structure in light of its

condition regarding amplification of existing structural component microbial populations and the

chemicals they excrete.

       h. failing to inspect the premises to assure that the premises were safely ventilated and clean

of dangerous toxins and microbial organisms; and

       i. failing to timely and adequately warn the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, of the

dangerous and unsafe conditions existing therein when the Defendant, D. STEPHENSON

CONSTRUCTION, INC., knew or should have known of the dangerous and unsafe conditions.

       37. As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Defendant, D.

STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION, INC., the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, was injured in and

about her body and/or aggravated a pre-existing condition, resulting pain and suffering, disability,

disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expensive hospitalization,

medical treatment, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money. These losses are permanent and

the Plaintiff will suffer such in the future. The injuries suffered by the Plaintiff are continuing in

nature and she will continue to suffer pain, scarring, mental anguish, loss of wages, physical

handicap and/or permanent injury in the future and will be further compelled to spend great sums

for medical care and related treatment for those injuries.

        WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, demands judgment for damages

against the Defendant, D. STEPHENSON CONSTRUCTION, INC., together with all taxable costs

interest available under Florida law, and further demands trial by jury of all issues so triable as a

matter of right.




                                                  10
                             Count IV -Negligence of C & B Services, Inc.

       Plaintiff realleges and reavers Paragraphs 1 through 19 above as fully set forth herein and

would further state:

       38.     At all times material hereto, the Defendant, C & B SERVICES. INC., was

contracted to "clean and dehumidify” the Broward County Courthouse after the 2005 hurricanes

       39. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, C & B SERVICES, INC., had a duty to

use reasonable care in conducting repairs so as to prevent injury to people occupying the Broward

County Courthouse, including the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ.

       40.     At all times material hereto, the Defendant, C & B SERVICES, INC., by and

through its employees and agents, breached its duties, including but not limited to:

       a. failing to warn regarding consequences of moisture intrusion and the amplification of

microbes which were integral parts of the structure inorganic surfaces and its organic components

       b. failing to use reasonable care in the cleaning and dehumidifying of the building;

       c. failing to warn regarding the harm relating to the sequelae of occupying the structure in

light of its condition regarding amplification of existing structural component microbial

populations and the chemicals they excrete;

       d. failing to inspect the premises to assure that the premises were safely ventilated and dry

and clean of dangerous toxins and microbial organisms; and

       e. failing to timely and adequately warn the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, of the

dangerous and unsafe conditions existing therein when the Defendant, C & B SERVICES, INC.

knew     or    should    have     known       of    the   dangerous     and    unsafe     conditions.

       41. As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Defendant, C & B

SERVICES, INC., the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, was injured in and about her body and/or



                                                   11
aggravated a pre-existing condition, resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental

anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expensive hospitalization, medical treatment,

loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money. These losses are permanent and the Plaintiff will

suffer such in the future. The injuries suffered by the Plaintiff are continuing in nature and she will

continue to suffer pain, scarring, mental anguish, loss of wages, physical handicap and/or

permanent injury in the future and will be further compelled to spend great sums for medical care

and related treatment for those injuries.

        WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, demands judgment for damages

against the Defendant, C & B SERVICES, INC., together with all taxable costs interest available

under Florida law, and further demands trial by jury of all issues so triable as a matter of right.

                          Count V -Negligence of Affordable Restoration, Inc.

       Plaintiff realleges and reavers Paragraphs 1 through 19 above as fully set forth herein and

would further state:

       42. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, AFFORDABLE RESTORATION,

INC. was contracted to "dryout and deflood" the Broward County Courthouse after the 2005

hurricanes.

       43. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC.,

had a duty to use reasonable care in conducting repairs so as to prevent injury to people occupying

the Broward County Courthouse, including the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ.

       44.      At all times material hereto, the Defendant, AFFORDABLE RESTORATION,

INC. by and through its employees and agents, breached its duties, including but not limited to:

       a. failing to use reasonable care in drying the premises;

       b. failing to adequately dry or replace drywall and affected absorbent structures;



                                                  12
      c. failing to dry inside of wall voids and other locations where water would be likely to be

located;

      d. failing to adequately dry concrete structural members;

      f. failing to warn regarding the harm relating to occupying the structure in light of its

condition regarding amplification of existing structural component microbial populations and the

chemicals they excrete;

      g. failing to inspect the premises to assure that the premises were safely ventilated and dry

and not favorable sites for the growth, amplification and spread of dangerous toxins and microbial

organisms; and

      h. failing to timely and adequately warn the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, of the

dangerous and unsafe conditions existing therein when the Defendant, AFFORDABLE

RESTORATION, INC. knew or should have known of the dangerous and unsafe conditions.

      45.      As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Defendant,

AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC., the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, was injured in and

about her body and/or aggravated a pre-existing condition, resulting pain and suffering, disability,

disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expensive hospitalization,

medical treatment, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money. These losses are permanent and

the Plaintiff will suffer such in the future. The injuries suffered by the Plaintiff are continuing in

nature and she will continue to suffer pain, scarring, mental anguish, loss of wages, physical

handicap and/or permanent injury in the future and will be further compelled to spend great sums

for medical care and related treatment for those injuries.

       WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, PATTI BUCHHOLTZ, demands judgment for damages

against the Defendant, AFFORDABLE RESTORATION, INC., together with all taxable costs




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interest available under Florida law, and further demands trial by jury of all issues so triable as a

matter of right.



DATED: March 30, 2009.



                                                      KRUPNICK, CAMPBELL, MALONE,
                                                      BUSER, SLAMA, HANCOCK,
                                                      LIBERMAN & McKEE, P.A.
                                                      Attorney for Plaintiff
                                                      700 Southeast Third Avenue
                                                      Courthouse Law Plaza, Suite 100
                                                      Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316
                                                      (954) 763-8181



                                                      BY:__________________________
                                                        ROBERT J. McKEE
                                                        Florida Bar No.: 0972614




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