Secondhand Smoke Suit Filed by OH Condo Resident Begins Today [06/28-7]
Excerpts from: Assault-by-smoke trial fires up today Stow man says his neighbor's cigarettes damaged his health
By Karen Farkas Cleveland.com [06/28/04]
Robert Zangrando claims he has been assaulted by cigarette smoke.
The smoke that wafted into his condominium from the cigarettes held outside by his neighbor, Nicole Kuder, was willfully blown in his direction and invaded his home, he says, which led to his additional allegations of battery and trespass.
The right to breathe smoke-free air is the focus of a trial scheduled to begin today in Summit County Common Pleas Court. It is likely to include a visit by the jury to the adjoining Stow condominiums, testimony from expert witnesses and testimony on how the errant smoke led to Zangrando's health problems and decreased the value of his property.
In a case that is attracting some national attention, Zangrando, 71, is seeking more than $50,000 in damages from Kuder, 28, who is moving. Zangrando, who said he has emphysema, said his health was damaged during the two years she lived there.
Since January, when the lawsuit was filed, Kuder has agreed to smoke only in her back yard for the first 15 minutes of each hour. She has said she is a "polite smoker" and Zangrando was harassing her and spying on her.
Secondhand smoke often leads to conflicts, and more than 420 lawsuits involving secondhand smoke have been filed in the last 25 years, according to research by Edward Sweda Jr., senior attorney for the Tobacco Control Resource Center at the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.
"There have been an increasing number of lawsuits in recent years that corresponds to people's increased awareness of secondhand smoke and the physical harm it can cause," he said, "and the gradually increasing societal disfavor of tolerating such exposure."
Sweda, who is following the Zangrando case, published a paper on his research this year in the journal Tobacco Control.
Many cases involve disability claims by employees exposed to secondhand smoke or child custody disputes when one parent smokes.
He wrote that since 1991 there have been at least 14 cases involving allegations of secondhand smoke seeping from one unit into another in a multiunit dwelling.
In court documents, Zangrando cites a 1994 case in which the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a man who blew tobacco smoke into the face of an antismoking advocate during a radio show committed battery because the smoke was offensive contact.
Jurors in Judge Marvin Shapiro's court are likely to see how the condominiums share a concrete porch, where Zangrando says Kuder left ashtrays, a coffee can filled with cigarette butts and lighters.
Zangrando's witness list includes Gary DeNelsky, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Tobacco Control Coalition.
Exhibits that could be introduced include pamphlets and information on secondhand smoke, an appraisal of Zangrando's unit and Zangrando's medical records.
This information is presented as a public service by:
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2013 H Street NW / Washington, DC 20006 / (202) 659-4310
A national nonprofit, scientific and educational organization founded in 1967.
All donations are fully tax deductible.
Material on this page may be freely reproduced, distributed, and circulated
with attribution given to Action on Smoking and Health.
Dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Warren Wells