WEST PALM BEACH — The federal courthouse in Palm Beach County has been closed due to mold spawned by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Chief U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch ordered the courthouse closed on Friday after receiving complaints that the mold was making people sick.
There have been complaints about headaches, sinus problems and watery eyes, but no one has been hospitalized, said Clarence Maddox, court administrator for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.
The mold has sprouted around the bottom of windows, mostly on the building’s west side in areas that suffered the most water damage. No court records appear to have been damaged by the mold, Maddox said. Maddox said that he didn’t know how long the courthouse would be closed, but that all business has been relocated to the U.S. Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale while a Washington-based contractor conducts tests.
There will be no change in filing deadlines, Maddox said. Lawyers can register to file papers over the Internet instead of going to Fort Lauderdale. Magistrate judges still can sign warrants from their homes, said Andrew Lourie, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach. “The wheels of justice don’t grind to a halt just because the courthouse closes,” Lourie said.