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DONALD L. GRAHAM
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mr. John E. B. Smith
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
WILKIE D. FERGUSON, JR.
UNITED STATES COURTHOUSE
400 NORTH MIAMI AVENUE, CHAMBERS 13-4
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33128-1812
May 29,2013
Regional Commissioner, Region 4
General Services Administration
Public Buildings Service
77 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-3427
Dear Mr. Smith:
TEL: (305) 523-5130
Thank you for your correspondence dated May 20, 2013, to our Court Administrator
advising of the steps that the General Services Administration intends to take to remedy the
water intrusion situation at the Fort Lauderdale Courthouse. I am responding as Acting Chief
Judge in light of Chief Judge Moreno's absence from the District.
No doubt the most recent incident was the worst flooding that has occurred in the
courthouse, although these leaks have been constant, persistent and long term. GSA has been
on notice of this problem for many, many years, having conducted a report titled Final
Assessment of Rainwater Problems and Water Intrusion in 1999 and more recently a Site Visit
Report on Water Intrusion Issues in 2010 from one of GSA's own engineers. I can provide
copies of those reports if you need them.
Indeed, more recently Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno sent correspondence to you dated
August 28, 2012 (copy enclosed), advising that the situation had worsened and expressing
concern about GSA's delays in remedying the situation. While your May 20th letter states that
GSA intends to pursue repairs as an emergency procurement, it should not go unnoticed that
prompt attention to Chief Judge Moreno's letter would have avoided this situation altogether.
As the video demonstrates, the current conditions are beyond serious, and frankly, a contract
award expected to be made in July and repairs to be completed by February 2014 provide little
comfort. Had proper repairs been undertaken last year when GSA was notified by Chief Judge
Moreno, the situation would already be remedied and our Judges, Court personnel and the public
would not have had to endure another monsoon season inside the courthouse.
On behalf of the Judges of the Southern District of Florida, I cannot stress strongly
enough the importance of insuring that GSA once and for all does, in fact, carry forward with its
obligation to provide a clean, waterproof and healthy work environment at the Fort Lauderdale
Federal Courthouse for the citizens of Broward County. I urge you to do whatever possible to
advance the schedule so that we do not have to endure another nine months of rain inside the
Fort Lauderdale Federal Courthouse.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Thank you in advance for your
time.
Encl (3 ): DVD- Fort Lauderdale Courthouse Leaks
May 20, 2013, letter from John E. B. Smith, GSA
August 28, 2012, letter from Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno
c: The Han. Bill Shuster, Congressional Representative, Chairman, Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure
The Han. Lou Barletta, Congressional Representative, Chairman, Subcommittee on
Economic Development, Public Building, and Emergency Management
The Han. John L. Mica, Congressional Representative, Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure
The Han. Jeff Denham, Congressional Representative, Former Chairman, Subcommittee
on Economic Development, Public Building, and Emergency Management
The Han. Bill Nelson, United States Senator, Florida
The Han. Marco Rubio, United States Senator, Florida
The Han. Mario Diaz-Balart, Congressional Representative Miami, Florida
The Han. Alcee L. Hastings, Congressional Representative Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Han. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressional Representative, Fort Lauderdale,
Florida
The Han. Ted Deutch, Congressional Representative Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Han. Lois Frankel, Congressional Representative, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Chief Judge Joel Dubina, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
All Southern District and Magistrate Judges
Han. Thomas C. Hogan, Director, Administrative Office ofthe U. S. Courts
Han. Michael A. Ponsor, Chair, Judicial Conference, Space and Facilities Committee
Melanie Gilbert, Assistant Director, Office of Facilities and Security
James Gerstenlauer, Circuit Executive
Dan M. Tangherlini, Acting Administrator, United States GSA
Jack Chandler, Circuit Architect
Pasquale Papaianni, District Architect
2013
Mr. Stewn M. Larimore
Court Administrator - Clerk of Court
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
400 North Miami Awnue, Room 8N09
Miami, Florida 33128-7716
Dear Mr. Larimore:
GSA Southeast Sunbelt Region
Thank you for your letter of May 14, 2013, and the accompanying \Adeo. I agree with your assessment that
this situation has, indeed, reached an emergency status. I would like to address your concerns by
detailing 1) what immediate actions haw been taken to remedy the damage caused by the water intrusion,
2) the emergency procurement that is underway to correct the inadequate storm water drainage system
which was responsible for the recent ewnt and 3) the roof replacement acquisition. We understand the
importance of this facility to the execution of your mission and want to assure you we are taking the actions
necessary to address this long-standing situation.
1) IMMEDIATE ACTIONS TAKEN
The last ftooding incident occurred on Thursday, May 2, 2013 and started at approximately 4:15pm. A
moisture remediation contractor was contacted immediately and was on site, ready to mobilize by 7pm. By
11:30 pm, the moisture remediation contractor had vacuumed most of the water in the affected areas and
installed 57 ftoor fans and 21 industrialized dehumidifiers throughout the Courthouse. These fans and
dehumidifiers remained in place fur 4-5 days until the spaces were free of moisture.
Additional water barriers haw been placed at key locations to prewnt future water intrusion. We hope that
this measure will help to mitigate flooding until the repairs to the drainage system are completed.
On May 16, 2013, a Federal Occupation and Health (FOH) Representatiw was on site conducting air
quality sampling. We expect to haw the report with the test results by the beginning of June. Based on
these test results and the recommendations by FOH, further remediation actions will be taken if needed.
2} EMERGENCY PROCUREMENT
There are leaks in areas on the 3rd and 4th floor terraces and at the large and small planters located on the
4th floor terrace that allow leaks during most rains. The situation that created the emergency ewnt in
question originated from a poorly design storm-water drainage system. The building storm-water drainage
system ties directly into the city storm-water drainage system under the streets. When the city
storm-water system backs up during heavy rains, the city streets and drainage systems flood so the water
in the building drainage pipes cannot empty into the city drains. This results in water backing up and
creating floods on each terrace lewl. which migrates into the building. Once the water enters the building
on the 3rd and 4th ftoor terraces. it finds its way through the rest of the building through slab openings and
core drills.
U.S. General Service• Adminlatratlon
17 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-3427
www.gsa.gov
The project to correct this immediate problem is being handled as an emergency procurement The award
is expected to be made in July, 2013 and the project completed by February , 2014. The project will replace
the waterproofing systems at the 4th floor terrace planters, seal the top of the exterior wall o ~ . e r the second
floor courtroom, replace approximately 4,000 SF oftopping slab and waterproofing membrane at the 3rd &
4th floor terraces, replace the building expansion joint at the first floor plaza area and design and install a
new, rerouted drainage system that will maintain proper flow during heavy rains.
3) ROOF REPLACEMENT
The scope of work for a complete roof replacement is being written now. This procurement action is slated
to begin this fiscal year. The funding for this project will be part of our FY14 repairs and alteration program.
This project will be prioritized in FY14 as funds are made available either through the normal budget
allocation or as part of our allocation through a Continuing Resolution ..
As these projects progress, you will be kept informed of the status by either Mr. Don Rollins, the Miami
Sef'\1ce Center Director, or Mr. Josh Lockwood, the Project Manager for both of these projects. In addition,
I am available to discuss any issues or concerns you may haw as we mow forward. We understand the
importance of this facility to the execution of your mission and want to assure you we are taking the actions
necessary to address this long-standing situation.
onal Commissioner, Region 4
eneral Sef'\1ces Administration
Public Buildings Sef'\1ce
cc: Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno
Sara Manzano-Diaz, Acting Regional Administrator, General Ser.1ces Administration, Region 4
Donald Rollins, Miami Ser.1ce Center Director, General Sef'\1ces Administration, Public Buildings
Ser.1ce
Mr. John Smith
UNITED STATES DISTRICT CouRT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CHAMBERS OF
FEDERICO A. MORENO
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
UNITED STATES CouRTHOUSES
THIRTEENTH fLOOR
400 NoRTH MoAMI AvENUE
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33128
August 28, 2012
Regional Commissioner for PBS
General Services Administration
77 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-3458
Dear Mr. Smith:
I am writing to express serious concerns with the Fort Lauderdale courthouse. This
facility has been a major problem for many years. Not only is the overall condition of the
building substandard, we have been forced to endure water infiltration and roof leaks for
the last ten years or more. There are persistent and steady leaks in both the Clerk's Office
and various Judges' courtrooms and chambers throughout the building, which GSA has
been repeatedly requested to fix. Over the years, some remediation has been attempted,
but the problems persist unabated.
Compounding matters, recently a flooding issue has worsened. In July, second
floor courtroom number 207 flooded again due to a terrace drain that backed up into the
third floor space of GSA's OIG office immediately above our space. This is not the first
occurrence. While GSA has attempted to remediate the space, U.S. District Judge Robin
Rosenbaum, who was confirmed in June, now will not be able to move into the second
floor space. We had planned to start cyclical maintenance including carpet replacement,
but of course that work cannot proceed pending a final resolution. In addition, we have
relatively new electronic equipment in the courtroom costing about $200,000 that could be
vulnerable to leaks. On July 23, 2012, we were advised that the cause was "still under
investigation," and GSA's building manager was "continuing efforts ... to further diagnose
the building's infrastructure to try to identify the root cause for the drains backing up."
Last week, a GSA representative advised our Court Administrator that efforts are
underway to fund work in FY 2013, with the likelihood being that no work will be
commenced until the summer of 2013. Given our overall experience with GSA's lack of
action on other issues in this building, as explained below, we are extremely skeptical
whether any remedy will be forthcoming.
Regarding the roof leaks, over the years we have repeatedly requested that GSA
remedy the situation. We were advised last December that GSA was attempting to secure
funding for addressing the roof leaks. GSA provided a 21-page Statement of Work
containing five component parts, some or all of which might be pursued depending on
funding. In July, after requesting an update, we were told that "[e]fforts are presently
underway ... to develop a scope of work and secure funding to replace a portion of the 4th
floor roof (not all of it), as well as, several expansion joints on the terraces that are causing
leaks .... The scope of work needs to be finalized for this work.
11
Last week, a GSA
representative advised that now this work is being reprioritized. In other words, it is
unclear whether any progress whatsoever has been made since December, and what work,
if any, will be conducted on the roof in the future.
Just last week, I was advised that another courtroom is leaking-- the second floor
courtroom of Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow. Judge Snow's chambers has had a
persistent leak for many years. The Building Manager indicated that the suspected cause
of the chambers leak is a planter on the 4
1
h floor of the building. This is the same source
that has been hypothesized by GSA for years yet nothing continues to be done.
We are extremely concerned about the apparent lack of progress, and request that
both the roof leaks and the flooding be addressed immediately. It appears that we were
lucky to avoid any major leaks from Tropical Storm Isaac. I would suggest that
commencing a solution next summer-- which would be immediately prior to the start of
next year's hurricane season-- would be untimely and imprudent at best. We are just hoping
that GSN s lack of diligence in remedying this situation will not result in major damage.
Long term, we are very concerned about the potential for mold in this facility. As you may
be aware, we have had significant mold issues in at least two of our courthouses over the
past few years, and every effort needs to be taken to prevent such a reoccurrence. Aside
from the health risks that need to be avoided, it simply makes more sense to fix the leaks
before they develop into mold issues that will result in major remediation expenses later.
The federal judiciary pays top dollar rent for premium commercial space. If this
were a private sector building, such a lackadaisical approach and lack of inaction by a
landlord would not be tolerated. This situation is reaching critical mass, and quite frankly,
our patience is gone. It is not too much to ask that GSA step up and finally take action to
make necessary repairs to insure that our courthouse space stays dry and fully functional
consistent with its intended use.
Thank you for your assistance. I look forward to hearing GSA's plan of action
for remedying these leaks as soon as possible.
..
c: The Hon. John L. Mica, Congressional Representative, Chairman, Committee
on Transportation and Infrastructure
The Hon. Jeff Denham, Congressional Representative, Chairman, Subcommittee
on Economic Development, Public Building, and Emergency Management
The Hon. Mario-Diaz-Balart, Congressional Representative, Miami, Florida
Chief Judge Joel Dubina, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
All Southern District and Magistrate Judges
Hon. Thomas C. Hogan, Director, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Hon. Michael A. Ponsor, Chair, Judicial Conference
Space and Facilities Committee
Melanie Gilbert, Acting Assistant Director, Office of Facilities and Security
James Gerstenlauer, Circuit Executive
Shyam Reddy, Regional Administrator, United States GSA
Jack Chandler, Circuit Architect
Pasquale Papaianni, District Architect

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