Tallahassee’s Northwood Centre is facing a lawsuit over health hazards. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported ten pounds of bat guano in its office ceiling earlier this month.
Update 5:39 p.m.: Jon Peck, spokesman for Northwood's owners, says attorney's are reviewing the lawsuit and will respond through court filings. The Florida legislature, through the state budget, has zeroed out funding for the rental contract agreement for the facility. Peck says, "the state’s decision to relocate its workers is a recent one and the owners are weighing all options in response to that action."
Original Story: Attorney Ryan Andrews is representing dozens of state workers in a suit against the building’s owner and property manager. He says employees are being forced to work in a hot zone.
“This is not a case where just a few people are coughing. I mean, entire offices are sick, people are coughing all day, covering their hands with wet paper towels to try to not breathe in the air. It’s no way to work,” Andrews says.
Andrews says workers have developed autoimmune disorders, bronchitis, pneumonia and a whole host of other ailments resulting from poor conditions. He represented 60 employees in a similar case against Northwood more than ten years ago and insists things haven’t gotten better. Andrews points out that’s because Ajax Investment Partners, the building’s owner, is housed in New York.
“I think it’s clear that – and some out of town company, an investment firm in New York owns this building – I don’t think they realize that people in North Florida don’t cotton to these types of working conditions,” Andrews says.
Besides animal feces, Andrews says raw sewage and black mold are wreaking havoc on the complex. Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Chad Poppell says they hope to relocate most employees by June. New locations include Blairstone Road, Magnolia Road and the Winewood Office Complex.