Schuman v. Greenbelt Homes, Inc., et al.

The plaintiff, a nonsmoker, brought a suit against Greenbelt Homes, Inc., a company that is effectively a condominium association, and a neighbor who smokes.  Schuman alleges that the smoker who lives in an adjoining townhouse is creating a private nuisance, affecting him in his unit.  Plaintiff alleges that by late 2008, the levels of secondhand smoke in his unit had become “unbearable.”  Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction and a declaratory judgment that the nuisance is one “prohibited by the Mutual Ownership Contract, and then directing GHI to take steps to require the smokers to stop smoking in or on their property.”  Plaintiff’s expert, James R. Repace, testified that “to within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that Mr. Schuman is exposed to unhealthy levels of secondhand smoke from a cigarette smoker in his neighboring townhouse, that poses both acute and chronic hazards, and that is irritating and malodorous as well.”  After a two-day evidentiary hearing, the court denied the Plaintiff’s request for an injunction, concluding that “the court has not received evidence in this case demonstrating actual damage to the Plaintiff other than the offensive odor.”  The court noted that Mr. Schuman had “not taken action to abate the problem through the use of fans or of a HIPPA filter,” even though Dr. Repace had testified that such efforts would not suffice to solve the problem.

Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland, No. CAL10-06047 (2010).