Monday, June 22, 2015

Attorneys with Knox County Clerk, PBA argue over courthouse mold lawsuit

Old Courthouse
A legal battle to decide whether Knox County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr. can sue the Public Building Authority because it has allegedly failed to remove "toxic mold spores" from the Old Courthouse could come down to semantics.

Case law, according to the PBA, says Arnett can't file a lawsuit in his capacity as a public official without demonstrating that the spores have actually "impeded" his official duties as clerk. PBA attorney Morris Kizer said paperwork that Arnett filed with the courts notes that the mold merely "interfered" with his job.

Arnett, Kizer said, also currently and successfully continues to operate out of five other satellite offices, and has a crew of employees currently working out of the Old Courthouse in downtown that he claims is riddled with mold.

"Mr. Arnett is performing his statutory duties in other areas of the county and nothing about alleged mold is keeping him from doing those duties," Kizer told Judge William Ailor in Circuit Court on Monday. "I can walk over to the courthouse right now and get a car tag . . . but if for some reason that location is not available, there are (five) other locations in the county. So, while Mr. Arnett says this has been an interference, truly it is not an impediment."

Arnett's attorney, Darren Berg, said his client "needs to be at the courthouse to do his job."

"The PBA has failed to remediate the mold problem – just swept it under the rug and hopes it goes away."

He also accused Kizer of mincing words.

"I see no difference between the terms 'interfere' and 'impeded,'" he said. "I think if you look in the thesaurus you'd see the same thing."

But, the bottom line, Berg said, is that "there's toxic mold in a suite of offices that interferes with (Arnett's) duties."

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

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