Employees claim unsafe working conditions in Warrick Co. courthouse, attorney says

Employees claim Warrick Co. courthouse caused illnesses due to high Radon levels
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:24 PM CDT
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WARRICK CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Officials in Warrick County are under notice from a local law firm due to working conditions in the county courthouse.

The law firm, and several county employees, are claiming the courthouse has caused illnesses due to high levels of Radon. This is a tort claim that’s stating that county officials have known about unsafe working conditions including Radon and black mold for a few years.

Radon is a radioactive gas and typically enters buildings through lower levels that have contact with soil.

There will be at least some level of Radon in most buildings, but according to this claim, the county has known that there are unsafe levels in the courthouse for years.

Attorney Mark Phillips says he’s had employees working in the Warrick County Courthouse reach out to him about their working conditions.

“I started getting phone calls and inquiries here at our office from people, several who have been injured or sick,” said Phillips.

Phillips said in looking for a cause, they’ve found commissioner meeting minutes that suggest there’s radioactive gas in the building.

“The county has known since at least mid to late 2020 that there were Radon readings that were of concern and did nothing about it,” Phillips said.

Phillips says his clients’ ailments match symptoms of radon exposure.

“People who have had no pre-existing conditions or respiratory related issues developed conditions that from the literature appear to be related to long-term exposure to this kind of radioactive material,” Phillips explains.

Phillips filed a tort claim which specifically alleges that the county knew of toxic radon levels, failed to tell their employees, concealed it from the public, and exposed people to harmful radiation.

“We determined the county needed to be put on notice of unsafe work conditions,” said Phillips.

Claimants Katelyn Cron, Molly Barnhill, Jen Hollander, Krystal Powless and Chris Connor Crowe are listed along with “all unnamed employees and contractors” are listed in the claim. They’re seeking $700,000 individually and $5 million collectively.

As it’s a tort claim, it opens the possibility of a resolution without litigation.

The county has 90 days to respond.

“Depending upon what the county does or doesn’t do,” said Phillips. “After that 90 days it will dictate what will be our next step, which could be a lawsuit on behalf of a lot of people.”

County officials tell us they don’t have an official response to the claim. They did say they have assured their employees that the experts have repeatedly told the Commissioners that the workplace environment is safe.

The county officials also say they have and will continue to mediate any risks to protect their employees in their work environments.