SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A settlement agreement has been reached in a lawsuit that was aimed at shutting the Roderick Ireland Courthouse down due to mold concerns.
Repairs and a deep clean… that’s what is now required from the Trial Court in a settlement agreement over the Roderick Ireland Courthouse. It comes following mounting concerns about cancer-causing mold.
“We can tell you story, after story, after story of people who have been sick, died, disabled because of the conditions of this building,” said Hampden County Register of Deeds Cheryl Coakley-Rivera.
Under the settlement agreement, work is to begin in August to install a diffuser filter system to “filter out mold and fiberglass that might be in the HVAC system,” remediate mold in four locations, remove fiberglass from fan coil units, install HEPA air cleaners, examine water-damaged or mold-harboring carpets, conduct weekly indoor air sampling through December 31, 2022, implement plan to mold and fiberglass management, provide yearly education/training on mold, and best practices for mold cleanup.
The agreement continues with deep cleaning which includes but not limited to carpets, equipment in all facilities, replacing damaged ceiling tiles, and replacing floor drains that have failed.
The roof and windows will be inspected and make repairs if needed. Damaged sheetrock and trim located on the agreement to be replaced. The settlement coordinator will be notified if any mold growth greater than 10 square feet for emergency mediation.
Lastly, plumbing and sewage will be inspected and repaired if needed.
This will be at the expense of the trial court which lawyers estimate could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, while a feasibility study is conducted on whether or not to repair or replace the building. Still, the building will largely remain open during that time.
“There are still concerns while these measures are being taken place, our position hasn’t changed that as of right now today the building is not a safe place to be,” said Attorney Jeffrey Morneau.
The Roderick Ireland Courthouse will be closed from July 1st to July 5th for deep cleaning. It’s part of the settlement agreement. However, Cheryl Coakley-Rivera wishes she didn’t have to file a lawsuit for this to start in the first place.
“How did we get there, right? How did we get there,” said Coakley-Rivera.
The class action lawsuit was brought forward by Alekman DiTusa in September claiming there were poor conditions that led to health problems in the Hampden County Superior Courthouse. They released a report in March that found cancer causing mold in the building. It also found significant amounts of mold in an office used by two judges who both died from ALS.
The Trial Court released a statement to employees at the courthouse Tuesday saying:
We are pleased to inform you that the Trial Court reached a settlement agreement regarding Springfield’s Roderick Ireland Courthouse and we greatly appreciate the significant commitment to resolution by everyone involved.
In addition, we are pleased to announce that former Springfield District Court First Justice John Payne has agreed to serve in the role of Settlement Coordinator to assist the parties in carrying out the terms of the agreement. Former Judge Payne worked for years in the Ireland Courthouse and served as chair of the building’s Environmental Committee. Since his retirement in 2021, he has served as Springfield City Solicitor.
We firmly believe that this agreement is in the best interests of everyone – judges, staff, attorneys, and the public. Our primary concern continues to be the safety of everyone who uses the courthouse.Chief Justice of the Trial Court, Jeffrey A. Locke
Court Administrator John A. Bello
“I am hopeful that the agreement reached relative to the lawsuit over the health concerns at the courthouse will provide some relief to the people who work there and make it safe to once again bring our justice-involved individuals to the building. But even after the deep cleaning takes place, we will continue our inspections to ensure the building is and remains safe and free from mold and other health hazards,” said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.