Monday, February 23, 2015

Knox Co. Clerk sues PBA over mold

Knox County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr. on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Public Building Authority because "toxic mold spores" in the courthouse where he works has caused his health to deteriorate.

"I didn't want to do it – it was a last resort," he told WBIR 10News Saturday. "As you can see in the complaint, two of my doctors say what I've got is life-threatening."

Filed in Knox County Circuit Court late Friday, the complaint does not seek punitive damages, but rather requests that the PBA remediate the building, and cover Arnett's legal and medical bills.

"We're asking the judge to immediately close my part of the building and get us out of there and into somewhere safe to work," Arnett said.

The Clerk's Office operates out of the Old Courthouse on Main Street in downtown Knoxville. It's the keeper of records for the Knox County Commission and it's where residents go to get a number of licenses, including marriage licenses, car tags or passports, for example. The Clerk's Office, like most county and city offices pays the PBA a sort of "lease" each month to take care of the building and provide security. The clerk's office pays $7,000 a month, which is not uncommon in local government.

MORE: Copy of the lawsuit

Arnett said his attorney, Darren Berg, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday at his firm Butler, Vines & Babb to talk more about the matter.

The lawsuit notes that Arnett filed "numerous complaints" with the PBA during the past year, but the problem wasn't fixed. He also said that the mold is affecting some of his employees.
PBA Director Dale Smith could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The lawsuit says the PBA did test for mold but the levels were within acceptable limits and that the mold was not alive. Arnett, however, had a third party take swabs of the office and discovered that the area walls where he works is "loaded" with black mold.

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