Government sued over ‘sick’ building

 

An employee of the Cayman Islands Civil Service is suing the government for health complications he claims he developed as a result of working in the Glass House, the government’s administration building since the 1970s until the recent opening of the new building next to it. 

The writ claims the plaintiff, Charles McCoy, was employed by the Portfolio of Finance in 1997 and was stationed to work on the second floor of the Glass House until he was transferred to Radio Cayman to work for six months. 

According to the document, Mr. McCoy returned to work at the Government Administration Building and resumed his post on the second floor until some time in 2001, when he went to work in the private sector for six months. 

On 15 April, 2002, he was re-engaged by the Portfolio of Finance and was stationed to work on the first floor of the Glass House and was still required to visit 
the second floor.” 

At the request of a physician, he was transferred to another building shortly after 18 February, 2010. 

“The plaintiff has during the course of his employment with the Cayman Islands Government consistently complained of respiratory problems while at work and has suffered various bouts of respiratory illnesses, which required treatment by doctors in the Cayman Islands and in the United States of America,” read the 
statement of claim. 

It further states that, “On or about the 5 May, 2008, following another bout of respiratory illness, the man was diagnosed with high antibody levels of spore pathogen Aspergillus Niger in his bloodstream and in January 2010 he was diagnosed as suffering from bronchiectasis caused by the presence of the mold spore pathogen Aspergillus.” 

According to the statement of claim, the mold spore pathogen Aspergillus has been found to be present in various studies and tests carried out by or on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government since 1998. 

“The said Government Administration Building has been described as sick in at least one of the reports provided to the Cayman Islands Government by one of its independent contractors engaged in the local air quality industry,” the pleading states. 

The plaintiff is asserting that he “has sustained severe injuries and has suffered loss and damage by working in the said Government Administration Building.” 

The particulars of the injuries are described in the writ as a permanently damaged left lung and bronchiectasis. The statement of claim alleges “negligence on the part of the Cayman Islands Government, its officers, agents, employees and servants.” 

It claims that adequate precautions for the safety of the plaintiff were not taken; necessary testing to determine if the pathogen Aspergillus Niger was present in the building after a test had shown a high concentration of the genus Aspergillus throughout the building was not done; the plaintiff was exposed to risk of damage or injury, which was known or ought to have been known; a safe place to work was not provided; a safe and healthy working environment was not provided, in breach of Section 4 of the Public Service Management Law. 

Another matter of contention in the writ is that the Government was contractually bound to keep all information relative to the man’s employment, including details of his health, confidential at all times, which it claims they did not do. 

“On or about 7 February, 2011… the plaintiff discovered that on or about 17 April, 2010, officers, employees, servants or agents of the Cayman Islands government caused or permitted to be published on the Government’s Lands and Survey website details of the plaintiff’s medical condition without obtaining his consent or authority to do so, in breach of his contact of employment with the Cayman Islands Government.” 

The plaintiff, who is represented by Murray and Westerborg, is seeking general and special damages pursuant to the Judicature Law, as well as costs. 

Cayman Islands Government Facilities Manager Richard Sanfilippo said, “It is no secret that the Glass House had mold problem, but the building went through a remediation process to remove it. Anything that was an issue before that I would not have been aware of, as I have been here roughly 18 months now and the tests that we have done in that time, which have been rigorous, all show that the building has passed with flying colours.  

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Well, this is a new one in the great world-wide history of civil service sickies.
    At least it may indicate that some civil servants actually breathe, however.

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  2. omg that’s terrible. Most people don’t realize just how bad mold can be. I just hope that lack of knowledge on mold issues doesn’t affect the outcome of this case. We had a mold problem for a while and didn’t even know it. I came down with similar respiratory problems and my wife’s asthma got worse. Eventually we called in a professional, Decon Pro Green, and they were able to quickly get rid of the mold behind the wall. Shortly there after our medical issues cleared up. I wish the best of luck to this guy!

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