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MIAMI � The gate is down and the first occupants have finally begun moving into the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Federal Courthouse, Miami’s newest federal courthouse that has been mired in construction problems and was due to open in July 2005. But the fight over who is responsible for the defects and delays is continuing. The government is seeking $3.5 million in liquidated damages from the contractor, the Dick Corp., which the government alleges walked off the job site last year. The Dick Corp. did not return calls for comment. The U.S. Marshal Service has begun moving into the building and conducting its security sweep and the federal court’s computer technology employees are preparing their move-in shortly, said Gary Mote, a spokesman for General Services Administration. “The move is underway,” Mote said, adding that he could not reveal the exact schedule for the move-in, which will be conducted in a phased-in process over the next six to eight weeks, citing security concerns. Move-in dates for each department will be posted as they occur on the court’s website for the Southern District of Florida. The $163 million boat-shaped glass building will house all federal judges as well as the clerk of the courts, U.S. marshals and probation offices. It also features the latest technology in the 16 courtrooms, a cafeteria to be run by the owner of the Titanic Brewing Co. in Coral Gables, and outdoor gardens designed by the artist who created the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The building still has work to be done, however, and only a temporary certificate of occupancy has been issued. Still to be dealt with are a flooded basement tunnel for transporting prisoners to the Federal Detention Center next door, a broken air conditioning system in the marshal’s firing range and an electrical system that has failed numerous inspections. The Ferguson courthouse is the fourth federal courthouse to be located in a two-block federal courts complex in downtown Miami. The building is named after a beloved former federal and state judge in Miami, Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr., who died in 2003. Ferguson was the first black judge to serve on the Miami-Dade Circuit Court and the Third District Court of Appeals. The building was plagued with construction defects, including water seepage from hurricanes and electrical explosions, and the contractor walked off the job last year, Mote said. He had said last year that GSA was considering litigation against the contractor. More than 1,000 people attended the building’s dedication ceremony in February 2007.

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