Prosecutor in critical condition with COVID-19 had filed an OSHA complaint

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A hospitalized prosecutor in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, told colleagues he filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after becoming ill with COVID-19.

Assistant Allegheny County District Attorney Russ Broman, 65, was in critical condition, according to initial reports by CBS Pittsburgh, WXPI and TribLive.

Broman was placed on a ventilator on Thursday because of concerns about his oxygen levels, according to a lawyer for Broman’s family, Lawrence Bolind. “It seemed like he was getting strong. However, the doctors were worried about the oxygen he was receiving through natural breathing,” Bolind told the ABA Journal.

Broman had planned to retire in January of next year. “It’s in God’s hands and our prayers are with him,” Bolind said.

Broman believes he was exposed to the coronavirus on June 30 at the courthouse, according to a statement sent to WXPI by Bolind.

A second lawyer at the DA’s office was also hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, Bolind said.

Bolind said he hasn’t seen the OSHA complaint. According to CBS Pittsburgh, the complaint concerned courthouse conditions. Colleagues confirmed that Broman had complained to them about COVID-19 protocols at the courthouse.

Defense lawyer George Heym told WXPI that Broman was frustrated because he believed COVID-19 protocols were inadequate.

“Number one, we need better notification and tracing protocols for the courthouse,” Heym told the broadcast station. “Two, we need temperature checking to enter the courthouse. Three, we need a centralized response rather than a hodgepodge of different courtrooms and different offices doing what they feel is best.”

Another defense lawyer, Patrick Nightingale, told CBS Pittsburgh that Broman had complained that one judge at the courthouse did not require masks in her courtroom, despite a mask order.

President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark had required masks before courts reopened. On June 26 she reaffirmed the order. “I have received reports that not everyone, including judges, is wearing a mask or face covering during court proceedings,” Berkley wrote. “Not wearing a mask is disrespectful and sends a message to the public and attorneys, that we care more about our personal comfort than we do about their safety.”

Berkley has also ordered as many proceedings as possible to be conducted by videoconference, KDKA reported on July 7.

Story updated on July 17 with new information on Broman’s condition.

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