WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

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The Reaper
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WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby The Reaper » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:14 am UTC

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent ... d620b.html
In an age when smoking has been outlawed in most public places – government buildings, bars and pool halls – a person's home is one of the few places you can puff in peace.

Until now.

A Dallas woman has filed a lawsuit seeking six figures from a former neighbor and landlord for damage she says was caused by cigarette smoke wafting through adjoining walls of her high-end townhome.

"Smoking is not a right, it's a privilege," said Chris Daniel, a retired nurse. "I'm sorry that people smoke. I think it's foolish, but when it comes into my house and hurts my health and my daughter's health and our belongings, it's a different issue."

The case is being watched by townhouse industry groups across the area.

A manager and attorney for Estancia Townhomes, a 52-building community near Prestonwood Country Club in North Dallas, said it's unlikely the Daniels sustained any smoke damage. There is a solid, two-hour fire wall from the foundation to the roof between each of the homes.

And even if some smell did seep through, the Daniels renewed their lease at Estancia – where smoking is permitted – six months after they say the problem began.

"Why do people file lawsuits?" asked Ginger Tye, an attorney representing the property managers and owners. "They're asking for money damages."

The next-door smoker, Rebecca Williams, declined comment.

Chris Daniel and her daughter, Cary, say in the lawsuit that a construction defect is allowing smoke to migrate between the units.

After a year of stinging eyes, breathing difficulty and sinus pain, they moved out of Estancia and into the Homewood Suites in Addison. Last week, movers wearing surgical masks loaded trucks with their belongings.

The Daniels said furniture will need to be reupholstered, artwork restored and closets full of clothing dry cleaned. The bills are still piling up.

"There's nothing in our home that was ready made. I picked out fabrics, everything was custom made and everything was spotless," said Chris Daniel.

"It's not like our worldly goods are the most important things in our life, but you know what? I don't expect them to be damaged."

Some multifamily communities have followed the lead of hotels and car-rental companies – designating nonsmoking rooms or buildings. The Glass House, a 21-story high-rise in Dallas' Uptown, markets itself as a smoke-free property.

Unfamiliar territory

Kathy Carlton, director of government affairs for the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, said she's never heard of a case such as the one filed by the Daniels.

She said most people who are highly sensitive to cigarette smoke don't move into a community or a building where it's allowed.

"Generally, this stuff is the property owners' prerogative, and people either live by the rules or move on down the street," Carlton said.

"If you have a pet, you look for a place that takes pets. If you hate pets, you look for a place that doesn't allow them. People have choices."

The Daniels said the freedom to choose cuts both ways.

Yes, people may be entitled to smoke in their home – but others are equally entitled to live in a clean and healthy environment.

The right to swing your fist, they said, ends when it meets my nose.

"This lease says I have a right to a habitable place, this lease says I have a right to quiet enjoyment, this lease says I have a right to safe living," said Chris Daniel, referring to court documents.

"And I did have that ... until someone moved in who did not care about her neighbor."

The Daniels lived at Estancia for four years. Today, after a final walkthrough of their home with an attorney and managers, they will hand over the keys.

Nicole Lott, property director at Estancia, said it's been a long year of acrimony.

Managers replaced air filters repeatedly, installed sealant-type electrical plates and – at the Daniels' request – used an industrial-grade roofing sealant to caulk pipes under their kitchen cabinet.

When that didn't work, managers tried to negotiate a move for both tenants within the community.

Restraining order

Williams, the smoker, finally moved to another unit in June after a judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding her from lighting up in her home.

"We've done more for these people than we've ever done for anyone else," Lott said. "I don't think it's possible to satisfy them."

Chris Daniel also filed a complaint under the Texas Fair Housing Act, alleging that her sensitivity to cigarette smoke qualifies her for protection set aside for people with disabilities.

The complaint is being reviewed by Dallas' Fair Housing Office.

First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers said a garden-variety reaction to cigarette smoke – puffy eyes, runny nose, coughing – would probably not meet the standard set by the law, a severe limitation of a major life activity.

"Not just anybody will be able to say smoking has that effect, and that's one of the things our Fair Housing Office will investigate," he said.

"It's safe to say most people do not suffer the degree of impairment this person alleges from cigarette smoke."

Chris Daniel has been treated by an allergist and an internist, according to court records, and was prescribed two inhalers.

Dr. Barbara Stark Baxter, a clinical associate professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center, wrote that Daniels "qualifies as disabled under the Texas Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Her attorney, John Clark Long V, said his clients were essentially driven from their home by cigarette smoke.

He illustrated the case this way:

"It was like living life in an ashtray you can never clean."
I hope this case gets thrown out, and I hope a countersuit bankrupts them until they're forced to live somewhere with a large amount of particulate matter in the air.... such as Dallas. oh wait. -_- I loathe people like this person, up to and including this person.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby netcrusher88 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:25 am UTC

If her claims are true, she might have a claim against the landlord. But you know, there are plenty of apartment complexes or whatever that don't allow smoking in the unit - or at least there are around here - and there is the fact that they renewed the lease six months after they claim the problem started.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Aetius » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:59 am UTC

I've long maintained that the proper response to second hand smoke is to fart directly at their face. It's amazing how equivalent the two offenses are at a fundamental level; not only does it fit the "eye for an eye" mantra, the eyes even have the same color.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby scrovak » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:00 am UTC

Chris Daniel and her daughter, Cary, say in the lawsuit that a construction defect is allowing smoke to migrate between the units.


So how the hell is this their neighbors fault? If anyone here deserves suing, it's the landlord, although I'm sure even that liability is negated when they renewed their lease AFTER they claimed the damage started.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby MrGee » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:10 am UTC

Any reporter who uses "until now" as its own paragraph needs to be dragged out into the street and shot.

I was forced to read this whole article in the voice of the movies preview narrator guy. You Americans know who I mean.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby scrovak » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:15 am UTC

I just reread this stupidity. It sounds like the property owners did everything conceivable to appease them. Having worked construction and contracting, I read what they did and realize that's pretty much as best you can do. There is nothing more that could have been done. And the amount of damage they claim occurred due to neighbor's smoke is not possible from any amount of seepage, except maybe over the course of a decade. It is more likely a kid or husband or someone smoked in their home and didn't tell the woman. But this little gem:
Chris Daniel also filed a complaint under the Texas Fair Housing Act, alleging that her sensitivity to cigarette smoke qualifies her for protection set aside for people with disabilities.

Pisses me off to no end. Like, seriously? I would rather it be determined her stupidity makes her a danger to society and she be locked away for a bit. Further, some reprimand should be given to the judge who temporarily barred a citizen from smoking in their own private residence. That's unconstitutional.

@MrGee: I lol'd. Then I got weird looks form my coworkers when I read 'Until Now' out loud in that voice.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby EnderSword » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

It's stuff like this that makes people resist a lot of these laws to begin with.

You try to make some laws to help encourage health, stop discrimination or improve public safety or something innocuous and good, and some crazy person takes it to extremes and sues someone then claims they're disabled.

There needs to be a larger penalty for people filing this sort of claim.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby MrGee » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:43 pm UTC

Why? You could just stand next to her and smoke, thus ruining her life :)

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Quenouille » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:55 pm UTC

Oh god, the paragraph even begins with ''In an age when...'' and now I can't get this voice out of my hand.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Gears » Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:38 am UTC

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby phillipsjk » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

Let's assume for the moment that the Lady filing the lawsuit really is seeing measurable smoke-damage: What makes her think the smoke is coming from her neigbours home? Particulates can come from a nearby roadway, for example.

I sort of like the husband theory as well.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby General_Norris » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:51 pm UTC

So the guy downstairs has some kind of thermal power plant taken from a steampunk universe, right?

Oh wait, it's a friccking cigarette not a locomotive.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Internetmeme » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:04 pm UTC

I like this part:

She's having the worst life ever from the guy's smoke next door because she is so allergic to it.
She moved into a smoking apartment complex.
She complains when people smoke in an apartment complex where smoking is allowed.
She renewed her lease after she first "felt" symptoms.

She had a choice of moving away six months after she started getting symptoms.

This is more crap than that McDonalds coffee-burn lawsuit and DRM combined.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Bright Shadows » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:11 am UTC

Internetmeme wrote:I like this part:

She's having the worst life ever from the guy's smoke next door because she is so allergic to it.
She moved into a smoking apartment complex.
She complains when people smoke in an apartment complex where smoking is allowed.
She renewed her lease after she first "felt" symptoms.

She had a choice of moving away six months after she started getting symptoms.

This is more crap than that McDonalds coffee-burn lawsuit and DRM combined.

McDonalds lawsuit wasn't that bad, tbh. 3rd degree burns from coffee is a bit excessive. DRM makes the combo pretty big, but still.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Joeldi » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:41 am UTC

The guy next door's name was Rebecca. Just sayin'.

Also, I rarely side with smokers, but in this case, 100%.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Internetmeme » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:42 pm UTC

If this lawsuit is won by the douchebag, then what's next?

Suing the upstairs neighbors when they have sex because the noise is going to make your children sex-hounds?
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby The Reaper » Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:44 pm UTC

Internetmeme wrote:If this lawsuit is won by the douchebag, then what's next?

Suing the upstairs neighbors when they have sex because the noise is going to make your children sex-hounds?

Suing douchebags for suing because its allowing your children to think that superfluous lawsuits are perfectly ok?

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby netcrusher88 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:48 pm UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:McDonalds lawsuit wasn't that bad, tbh. 3rd degree burns from coffee is a bit excessive.
I'm not sure 3rd degree burns from liquid water is possible. And yes, looking at the facts, regardless of burn degree it's terrible that the plantiff won it. Drip coffee should be served around 180-190° F, just like tea - and that's how it was served. If you spill your hot drink and get burned by it that's your own damn problem.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Box Boy » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:07 pm UTC

Someone tried to sue McDonalds for burning themselves with coffee?
They lost, right?

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby blue_eyedspacemonkey » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v. ... ants#Facts
Apparently, the woman went through the drive though, spilt coffe and it was absorbed by her trousers and so was held against her skin. She got 3rd degree burns and required skin grafts.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Box Boy » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

That's frakkin rdiclos.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Brooklynxman » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Box Boy wrote:Someone tried to sue McDonalds for burning themselves with coffee?
They lost, right?


First thing I did when I saw this was look at your location. This case is extremely famous, but mostly in America, where it makes us go "WTF!?"
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Box Boy » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:40 pm UTC

Yeah, I've never heard about that case before.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby netcrusher88 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:03 pm UTC

In the style of the Darwin Awards and the Ig Nobel Prize, there's the Stella Awards, named after the plaintiff in that case, to highlight lawsuit abuse.

But yeah. It's pretty stupid. It's also the reason that disposable drinkware for hot drinks now has "Caution: contents may be HOT" printed all over it.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby MrGee » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:18 pm UTC

Just one of the many reasons I don't drink coffee :)

Someone tried this is the UK too but lost the suit.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Snowflake » Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:18 am UTC

MrGee wrote:Someone tried this is the UK too but lost the suit.


Americans are better at suing people 'cause they get more practice than everybody else. :idea:
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby MrGee » Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:38 pm UTC

Haha. The real difference was that the UK case was heard by a judge, not a jury. Still, I think he dodged the issue on technicalities.

I hear coffee is easier to spill than water because it has lower surface tension.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Bright Shadows » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:00 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:McDonalds lawsuit wasn't that bad, tbh. 3rd degree burns from coffee is a bit excessive.
I'm not sure 3rd degree burns from liquid water is possible. And yes, looking at the facts, regardless of burn degree it's terrible that the plantiff won it. Drip coffee should be served around 180-190° F, just like tea - and that's how it was served. If you spill your hot drink and get burned by it that's your own damn problem.

If you spill a drink on you, one you expect to be hot, you don't expect it to give you third degree burns. You expect some pain, maybe, but 3rd degree burns? A product that is able to do that when it's not something you would expect it to be able to do should be labeled. If you have that heads up, you can avoid serious pain and bodily damage more easily.
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby The Reaper » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:29 pm UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:McDonalds lawsuit wasn't that bad, tbh. 3rd degree burns from coffee is a bit excessive.
I'm not sure 3rd degree burns from liquid water is possible. And yes, looking at the facts, regardless of burn degree it's terrible that the plantiff won it. Drip coffee should be served around 180-190° F, just like tea - and that's how it was served. If you spill your hot drink and get burned by it that's your own damn problem.

If you spill a drink on you, one you expect to be hot, you don't expect it to give you third degree burns. You expect some pain, maybe, but 3rd degree burns? A product that is able to do that when it's not something you would expect it to be able to do should be labeled. If you have that heads up, you can avoid serious pain and bodily damage more easily.

According to wiki, "Third-degree burns occur when the epidermis is lost with damage to the subcutaneous tissue.", so i suppose you can get a third degree burn if you leave the boiling hot liquid in contact with your skin long enough. Why the lady made no move to move the burning hot fabric away from her flesh is the question...

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby MrGee » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:32 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:McDonalds lawsuit wasn't that bad, tbh. 3rd degree burns from coffee is a bit excessive.
I'm not sure 3rd degree burns from liquid water is possible. And yes, looking at the facts, regardless of burn degree it's terrible that the plantiff won it. Drip coffee should be served around 180-190° F, just like tea - and that's how it was served. If you spill your hot drink and get burned by it that's your own damn problem.

If you spill a drink on you, one you expect to be hot, you don't expect it to give you third degree burns. You expect some pain, maybe, but 3rd degree burns? A product that is able to do that when it's not something you would expect it to be able to do should be labeled. If you have that heads up, you can avoid serious pain and bodily damage more easily.

According to wiki, "Third-degree burns occur when the epidermis is lost with damage to the subcutaneous tissue.", so i suppose you can get a third degree burn if you leave the boiling hot liquid in contact with your skin long enough. Why the lady made no move to move the burning hot fabric away from her flesh is the question...


Seriously?

Let us delve a little further into this scenario:

-You're sitting in a car. Possibly wearing a seatbelt. You would have trouble getting something out of your pocket.
-You spill an entire cup of 180 coffee into your lap, which immediately saturates your pants and begins to burn your legs and genitals.
-You are now screaming and writhing around, completely panicking.
-Pants take multiple steps and fine motor control (zipper) to remove under the best circumstances. You're still sitting down in a car.
-You're 79 fucking years old!

And you want to know why she had trouble getting the coffee away from her skin? I doubt you meant that comment to be cruel, but it was.

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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:47 am UTC

I want to know how a liquid that hot is supposed to be safe to put in one's mouth.

Also, didn't she only sue for the hospital costs they refused to pay? At least at first?
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby Malice » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:19 am UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:I want to know how a liquid that hot is supposed to be safe to put in one's mouth.

Also, didn't she only sue for the hospital costs they refused to pay? At least at first?


She sued for twenty thousand; her medical bills were eleven thousand; McDonald's offered 800 dollars. The jury decided she would get 80% of 200,000 (because they said she was 20% responsible), and then gave her an additional 2.7 million in punitive (equivalent to two days of coffee revenues). That got reduced and reduced and eventually the parties settled on 600,000 total.

(I'm paraphrasing the Wiki article on the case.)
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Re: WTF. Lady suing neighbor for smoking in own home

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:24 am UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:I want to know how a liquid that hot is supposed to be safe to put in one's mouth.

It's not, really, if you just take a swig. You sip hot drinks - less time in contact with a given area means less heat transferred to it.
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