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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. � Miami’s new federal courthouse � the $163 million Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse � is finally scheduled to open in mid-January, 2 1/2 years behind schedule and $78 million over budget. “The General Services Administration is working with the tenants to commence a phased occupancy in January 2008,” said Gary Mote, spokesman for the GSA, the owner of the building. The courthouse has been plagued with construction problems, including an explosion earlier this year, hurricanes causing water seepage and a dispute between the GSA and the general contractor that resulted in the contractor walking off the job. The GSA has threatened possible litigation against contractor Dick Corp. as a result. Potential litigation Meanwhile, problems continue to plague another Miami federal courthouse, the David W. Dyer Building. Prominent Miami personal injury attorney Alan Goldfarb has been hired by the children of deceased magistrate Judge Ted Klein to investigate a possible wrongful death lawsuit against the government. Goldfarb has filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in an effort to obtain information about what the courts knew about mold intrusion in the Dyer courthouse. Klein, who worked at the Dyer building for years, died suddenly of a mysterious respiratory ailment last year. His courtroom has since been closed off along with the basement, and studies have shown significant amounts of mold present in Miami’s oldest courthouse. Miami’s new courthouse, the 14-story glass, boat-shaped Ferguson building, will house all active federal judges in Miami, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida’s clerk’s office and the probation and pretrial-detention departments. The probation department will move in first, according to Magistrate Judge Peter Palermo. Then the judges will begin moving in � in a phased-in process that will take six to nine months. The building has had an occupational license since February 2007, but court officials have refused to move in � and start paying rent to GSA � until the building was completed. The judges’ move to the new building could free up space for occupants of the Dyer building. Several magistrate clerks, courtroom deputies and interpreters who work in the building have complained of such respiratory problems as double pneumonia, nosebleeds and severe allergies. Water intrusion is apparent in some areas, with peeling wallpaper, stained carpets and musty smells. Two studies performed at the building since Klein’s death concluded there are significant mold and air safety issues in the building, particularly in the basement. Goldfarb said he is frustrated because the government promised to answer FOIA information requests by certain dates and has not met these deadlines. Goldfarb is trying to find out when the government knew there were problems in the building and what action, if any, it took. Goldfarb last week filed a lawsuit in Miami federal court against the GSA in an effort to force the agency to comply with its FOIA request. The GSA, which received the FOIA requests on Oct. 29, declined to comment. District Chief Judge Federico Moreno said there’s “no problem in the Dyer building. It’s all been remedied. There’s only a problem in one part of the basement.”

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