Broward County Courthouse Is Falling Apart

      FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) - The Broward County Courthouse has been disrupted since Thanksgiving weekend by water damage that wiped out its phone system. It's the second time this year that the courthouse was closed by flooding.
     The first flood cost the county $1.2 million. Chris Stotz, a spokesman for the courthouse, said that this flood was worse.
     A 2-inch pipe burst on the second floor, courthouse communication center, damaging about 3,000 civil, family, traffic and misdemeanor files.
     "It happens like clockwork about twice a year," Clerk of the Courts Howard Foreman said. "In the short term and in the long run, something has to be done [about the decrepit building]. It's not fair to the public or our employees."
     The courthouse is considered too small for the increasing caseload. Roughly 10,000 people visit the courthouse each week. The building has broken elevators and tottering plumbing, air conditioning and electrical systems. Its mildew problem has led two longtime judicial aides to notify the county of their intent to sue. They say the mildew has given them severe pulmonary problems.
     Skip Campbell, the two aides' attorney, said that the burst water line will exacerbate the mold problem.
     Courthouse employees said on Wednesday that new cases are being handled, but the public has no access to them yet. They could not say when new complaints would be available.