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Suit claiming bats, rats at courthouse goes to Supreme Court

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama appeals court ruled it doesn’t have the power to decide whether to dismiss an employee lawsuit claiming a west Alabama courthouse is infested with rodents and bats.

The Court of Civil Appeals, in a decision Friday, said the Alabama Supreme Court needed to consider the lawsuit involving the Greene County Courthouse at Eutaw.

Nearly 30 county employees filed suit in February blaming county commissioners for what the suit describes as deplorable conditions at the William McKinley Branch Courthouse, which opened in the mid-1990s and was named for a civil rights leader who became the nation’s first elected Black probate judge.

Aside from pests inside the building, the roof leaks, and air conditioning and heating systems don’t work, the suit claims. The problems combine to create unsafe working conditions, the suit claims, and workers deserve an unspecified amount of money as compensation.

The county denied there was a “continuous” bat infestation, court documents show. It also contends the suit doesn’t state any claims that should result in a verdict for the workers and asked a court to throw out the complaint.

A county judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit in May and the commission asked Civil Appeals to consider the case, the decision said. The appeals judges said they lacked jurisdiction and sent the matter to the Supreme Court.

Workers tried to get conditions improved through administrative procedures last year before filing the lawsuit agains commission members.

The county of roughly 8,100 people is located 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Birmingham.

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